What to do About Children Grinding Their Teeth (Bruxism)
Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a common condition among children, and when done frequently, can lead to significant dental problems. Although bruxism in children is common, it can be concerning for parents and caregivers, and understanding the causes, effects, and available treatment options is essential in addressing it effectively.
What is Bruxism
Bruxism is the act of grinding, gnashing, or clenching your teeth. It can affect people of all ages but is most common among children. Grinding most commonly occurs during sleep, children grinding their teeth during sleep, making it potentially difficult for parents to be aware of!
Several factors contribute to bruxism in children. One common cause is the eruption of new teeth. The discomfort and pain associated with teething can trigger grinding or clenching as a natural response. Other causes include anxiety, stress, misaligned teeth, malocclusion (improper bite), hyperactivity, and certain medical conditions such as enlarged tonsils, cerebral palsy, and sleep disorder breathing.
Symptoms & Causes
Bruxism can have several detrimental effects on a child’s oral health and overall well-being. The constant grinding or clenching puts excessive force on the teeth, leading to tooth wear, enamel erosion, and even tooth fractures. In severe cases, bruxism can also result in jaw pain, headaches, earaches, and facial muscle discomfort. Additionally, disrupted sleep patterns caused by bruxism may lead to daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. While it is challenging to identify Bruxism in children if they do it during the night, these signs should be considered as an indication of the possibility of your children grinding their teeth unintentionally:
• Grinding noises during the teething phase or hearing any in general.
• Chipped teeth can indicate bruxism, as grinding can lead to tooth damage, such as uneven surfaces.
• Bruxism can result in discomfort and soreness in the jaw, leading to headaches and earaches. If you have noticed your child is experiencing frequent headaches or earaches, grinding could be the problem.
• Daytime fatigue and irritability are extremely common signs of teeth grinding. If you’ve noticed your child is showing signs of frequently being tired or irritable during the day, bruxism may be interrupting their sleep.
What To Do If You Believe Your Child is Grinding Their Teeth
If you suspect your child could be grinding their teeth, there are steps you can take to help alleviate and manage this habit.
• A dental visit should be the top priority to determine the extent of the bruxism and personalized treatment options.
• Create a calm environment for children to reduce stress and anxiety.
• Creating a regular bedtime routine promotes consistency and signals the mind to relax and unwind.
• Limiting simulating activities before sleeping can help decrease arousal resulting in not worsening the symptoms already present.
• A nightguard may be recommended in certain cases.
Bruxism is a common occurrence in children which can cause further dental issues and an overall discomfort in one’s health if left unaddressed. By seeking professional guidance and employing appropriate treatment options, it is possible to manage and alleviate the symptoms of bruxism in children. Remember, early intervention and regular dental check-ups can contribute to improved oral health and overall well-being for your child. Our Where Smiles Grow team is currently accepting new patients in our three convenient locations in Schodack, Latham, and Delmar! Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment!