If your child has started showing signs of teeth grinding or bruxism, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start. Teeth grinding is surprisingly common in children, particularly between the ages of 3-7, when they begin getting more baby teeth and permanent front teeth.
While it’s important to know what’s causing it – whether due to anxiety and tension, dental issues such as overcrowding or misalignment, or lifestyle habits like sleeping on their stomachs with their faces pushed into pillows – the most critical first step is understanding how serious this issue can be if left untreated. It’s never too early to take care of the body.
In this blog post, we’ll outline everything that parents need to understand about teeth grinding in children so they can take appropriate action before long-term damage occurs.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is the conscious or unconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth. It occurs more frequently in children.
Approximately 20 to 3 % of children grind their teeth when asleep. During the night, you may have heard your child doing it. Occasionally, worried youngsters will grind their teeth throughout the day. The good news is that most youngsters will ultimately cease teeth grinding. This often occurs around the time when children lose their baby teeth.
Tooth grinding (or bruxism) is quite prevalent, especially among toddlers and preschoolers. Some youngsters continue to grind their teeth through puberty and into adulthood.
Your child is not experiencing a nightmare or reliving a frustrating occurrence from the day if they are grinding their teeth. Pain (such as from an ear infection or teething) and poor tooth alignment are two reasons for teeth grinding.
A Gentle Reminder
If you are concerned that your child may be grinding their teeth, the best thing to do is schedule an appointment with their pediatric dentist in Alexandria, VA. The pediatrician will be able to diagnose bruxism by examining your child’s teeth for unusual wear and checking for unusual sensitivity. They may also ask you and your child questions to determine if the cause is stress or anxiety. Don’t hesitate to consult a pediatric dentist about any concerns regarding your child’s oral health.
Symptoms of Bruxism
Typically, physical symptoms involve the teeth and jaw.
Teeth may appear worn or may be chipped. The enamel of teeth can be eroded by grinding. If left addressed, the disorder risks children to future oral problems. This may include an intolerance to hot and cold meals and beverages.
Children who grind their teeth frequently complain of a painful jaw. This may occur upon awakening or while they are chewing. Grinding your teeth can cause headaches, earaches, and face pain. TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, issues can result from excessive grinding.
Teeth grinding also can be tied to emotional issues, such as:
- eating disorders
Some children who grind their teeth have no adverse effects. They may not even realize they are doing it, especially if it occurs while they are asleep. Sometimes, family members are the only ones aware that an individual grinds teeth while sleeping.
Causes of Bruxism
A variety of circumstances may induce bruxism. Most frequently, a “bad bite” or misaligned jaw is the cause of teeth grinding. Additionally, pediatric dentists see that youngsters tend to grind their teeth more frequently in reaction to life pressures. For example, if the youngster is experiencing a particularly stressful test period or is migrating to a new school, nightly teeth grinding may begin or worsen.
Children with specific developmental abnormalities and brain injuries may be at increased risk for teeth grinding. In such instances, your pediatric dentist may provide botulinum injections to relax face muscles or give a protected mouthpiece for nocturnal use. If teeth grinding begins suddenly, current drugs must be reviewed. Although bruxing is an uncommon negative effect of certain drugs, switching to a different brand may be necessary.
How to Manage Bruxism
Look for the source
Children may grind their teeth at night if they are anxious about approaching examinations, a conflict with a teacher, or a playground bully. Please discuss with your child what is troubling him. Then assist him in resolving the issue.
In the majority of youngsters, bruxism ends spontaneously by age thirteen. Meanwhile, your pediatric dentist will continue to evaluate its effect on the child’s teeth and may recommend an interventional plan.
In general, the treatment strategy is determined by the reason for the grinding. Your pediatric dentist may take corrective action if the child’s teeth are severely crooked. Among the possibilities available are modifying the biting surface of teeth with crowns and initiating occlusal therapy.
If stress appears to increase teeth grinding, your pediatric dentist may suggest relaxation courses, professional counseling, or specific exercises. The child’s pediatrician may also prescribe muscle relaxants to minimize clenching and spasms.
In circumstances when baby teeth are experiencing considerable damage, your pediatric dentist may recommend a specific nightly dental device, such as a mouth guard. Mouth guards prevent tooth surfaces from grinding against one another; they resemble mouthpieces worn by athletes. Biting splints and bite plates serve the same purpose and are nearly universally effective at reducing grinding damage.
Long-term effects of Bruxism
Unless particularly serious, teeth grinding in toddlers or preschoolers and mild awake bruxism at any age are unlikely to create difficulties. Chronic sleep bruxism, on the other hand, might result in issues such as:
- Jaw pain and headaches
- Worn tooth enamel
- Fractured or chipped teeth
- Receding gums
- TMJ dysfunction
- Sleep problems
In most situations, teeth grinding is a short-term problem with no permanent consequences. In the short term, however, your youngster may experience earaches, headaches, or tooth problems. Consult your pediatric dentist if you observe that your kid grinds their teeth for an extended amount of time. This issue may need to be addressed to safeguard your child’s dental health over time. Mouthguards and managing emotional distress are two solutions.