While bruxism, a condition more commonly referred to as grinding your teeth, is not a problem exclusively for young brushers, approximately 33% of all children suffer from grinding their teeth too much. Throughout the article we will discuss some of the reasons why children start to grind their teeth and what parents can do to help bring the grinding habit to a halt.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
There are several potential causes that may lead to someone to begin or continue grinding their teeth. Children tend to grind their teeth most when their baby teeth first come in, and then again when their adult teeth come in. Some other common reasons include: stress, habit, aggression, sleep disorders or mechanical problems such as missing, broken or misaligned teeth.
In some serious cases teeth grinding may be a side effect of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease. Medications, including antidepressants, may trigger grinding.
What Problems Are Associated With Grinding?
While you may not think it’s a big deal if your child grinds their teeth, the effects may be very detrimental and have lasting consequences.
While grinding ones baby teeth may not seem like that big of a deal, if grinding becomes a habit, grinding your adult teeth (which are permanent and do not grow back) can lead to permanent damage to your child’s teeth and jaw, including fracturing of teeth.
Facial pain, including headaches, ear aches and sore jaws, are common effects of too much grinding. This can also lead to difficulty chewing food.
How Do I Tell If My Child Grinds Too Much?
Many children grind their teeth subconsciously and are unaware they even do it. Often times it is the parents, siblings or your family dentist that notices the signs of grinding. Some of these signs include: grinding noises when your child is sleeping (or awake), complaints about a sore jaw in the morning, pain with chewing and visible wear on your children’s teeth.
Is There Anything I Can do to Stop Grinding?
Most children simply outgrow regularly grinding their teeth. However, when your child becomes stressed, injured or even when they sleeping, they may start grinding again. Some methods to help your child stop grinding include:
Decrease your child’s stress before they go to bed.
Ex.) read a book, listen to soft music, take a warm bath/shower, talk to them, etc.
Try stretching and/or massaging the jaw muscles to help relax them.
Give your child a glass of water before bed. Dehydration can lead to grinding.
If the problem persists some dentists may prescribe a night guard. Night guards are very similar to mouthguards children wear while playing sports. The guard is made of plastic and is specially molded to your child’s teeth. It provides a layer of plastic protection to save your child’s teeth from breaking down as well as future pain caused by grinding.
If you are unsure if your child is a “grinder” or are unsure what’s the best method for you to help them stop, come visit us today and take your children for routine dental check-ups.