Does your child grind teeth? Don’t worry; it’s curable.

Does your child grind teeth? Don’t worry; it’s curable.

Does your child grind teeth? Don’t worry; it’s curable.

It is not uncommon to realize that your child has developed the habit of grinding teeth at night, clenching jaws or gnashing during tense moments during the day. It is an unconscious act, and many children are unaware of it. But the good news is it can be successfully treated.

What is Teeth Grinding?

It is the repetitive motion of clenching or gnashing of teeth. The medical term is Bruxism, and there are two types: Sleep Bruxism and Waking Bruxism. As the words imply, the former is mainly the clenching of the jaws placing significant pressure on the teeth during waking hours, and the latter is the cyclical teeth grinding during sleep.

Children and adults can both suffer from Bruxism. In children, Pediatric Bruxism is common; studies suggest one in 5 children grind their teeth at night. 

What Causes Pediatric Bruxism?

There are several reasons children grind their teeth, and these include:

  • Misaligned teeth: Improper placement leads to a desire to align the teeth as an instinctual response leading to clenching and rubbing of the jaws and teeth.
  • Anxiety or stress: Any kind of anxiety a child experiences related to their routine (homework, exams, competitions), parental interactions, or an impending task can lead to grinding teeth as a coping mechanism.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, or side effects of medications can also lead to teeth grinding.
  • Hereditary influences: if teeth grinding exists in the family, children are likelier to do it.
  • Non-Verbal Expression: In young children, teeth grinding is a way of naturally showing frustration/displeasure until they learn to express their feelings verbally.

What Can Bruxism Lead to If Unchecked?

If the condition goes undetected for long, the constant pressure and grinding motion of the teeth can damage children’s teeth and gums, place excessive strain on the jaw and result in the following:

  • Damaged/Worn down teeth.
  • Receding gums.
  • Pain in the teeth and jaw.
  • Problem with the jaw joints.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Sleep problems.

Will The Child Outgrow Bruxism on Their Own?

In most cases, children outgrow Bruxism after the age of 6 or so. If the child still has milk teeth, no intervention may be necessary as the condition may resolve when permanent teeth appear. However, if the child is older and teeth grinding persists, consult a pediatric dentist.

What Should Parents Do to Prevent Their Children from Grinding Teeth?

 Parents should stay alert to their child’s habits, mental and emotional disposition and dental health. It is essential to ask yourself the following questions?

  • Is your child showing signs of anxiety?
  • Are you monitoring their sleeping pattern? Do they make grinding noises or teeth-clacking sounds?
  • Does your child clench their teeth during moments of high anxiety or excitement? Or during a demanding task or a challenge?
  • Does your child complain of tooth sensitivity?
  • Do you notice anything different about their teeth?

Ensure you are aware of these cues. Know what is causing your child anxiety and address the problem:

  • Make their sleep time environment comfortable and soothing to prevent any stressful influences.
  • Check their dental routine and health to spot signs of wear and tear.
  • Book a check-up with a pediatric dentist to evaluate your child’s dental health if you suspect Bruxism.

Correct Diagnosis and Treatment Successfully Eliminates Teeth Grinding in Children

Several effective ways to help your child stop teeth grinding include using a nighttime mouthguard, anxiety-relieving techniques, and a thorough evaluation for underlying causes that can be precisely targeted and treated.

Pediatric Bruxism or teeth grinding in children is a highly resolvable issue.

Authored by:
Lana Al Habash

Lana Al Habash

Specialist Pediatric Dentistry

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