When your child is sleeping, you may have noticed a strange and somewhat unnerving sound: the gnashing of teeth or the whine as they grind against each other. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is incredibly common in children. Thy clench their jaws in their sleep and the result is often the strain of tooth on tooth as they involuntarily shift their tightly clenched jaws in the middle of the night.
As many as a 30% of kids have some form of bruxism for a period and most grow out of it.
Some, however, may not. And there are steps you’ll want to take to ensure your child’s teeth or being kept safe and healthy during nightly grinding episodes.
Below is some information about bruxism in children and what you can do to help alleviate it in your own child.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the clenching of the jaw when one is in the deep sleep phases, or when someone is under some form of stress in their waking hours. While this is primarily a sleep related movement disorder, it can manifest in the day time as well, as many sufferers of bruxism will find themselves clenching their jaw throughout the day, this can be a good indicator of bruxism before any physical signs or damage start to show.
What Causes Bruxism?
There’s a lot of hypothetical answers to what brings on bruxism. In children it can start because top and bottom teeth are somehow misaligned. However, it can also start in response to pain, such an ear infection or bad headache. These two causes often result in the child outgrowing the habit. But stress can cause bruxism as well, such as children suffering forms of chronic anxiety or acute bouts of bruxism in response to day-to-day challenges.
What Are the Effects of Bruxism?
For some, they never know they have bruxism because there are no effects. For others, it can cause chronic headaches or earaches. If grinding persists tooth enamel can be worn down, teeth can chip, they can become sensitive, jaw problems such as temporomandibular joint disease can occur. If children share a room, the grind sound could keep other children up at night as well.
How is bruxism diagnosed?
The sound of grinding teeth is always a surefire bet, however other signs point to bruxism. Unexplained jaw or facial pain, pain while chewing, chronic headaches, and earaches are all signs that point to bruxism.
How is bruxism treated?
Most children outgrow bruxism, however, for those that don’t, relaxing before bedtime with a bath or listening to soothing music can relieve muscle tension. Mouth guards also may be used to protect the teeth from damage
Talk to your child’s dentist about your concerns with potential bruxism and find out what options are available to you.
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Our dental services include general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry such as dental veneers, teeth whitening and invisible braces as well as restorative treatments such as dental implants, dental bridges and dentures.
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