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Bring Your Child’s Teeth-Grinding Habits to a Grinding Halt

Mar 11, 2015 - 03:03 PM EST |  Posted under: Pediatric Dentistry

If you’ve noticed your child making grinding motions or noises with his mouth at night, you may be witnessing a problem behavior called bruxism or nighttime teeth grinding. The instinctive grinding of teeth is common in both adults and children. Most kids who exhibit this behavior are younger than eight years of age. When permanent teeth touch the roof of the mouth, the behavior generally tapers off. The bites of younger children are flexible and change frequently. If a child is grinding his teeth, his teeth may not develop normally.

How to Stop Teeth Grinding

A trip to see your pediatric or family dentist is essential for evaluating and treating the symptoms, but there are ways to limit the behavior, or reduce the amount of damage to teeth in the meantime. Here are several useful tips for preventing or halting nighttime teeth grinding.

  • Dehydration is linked to teeth grinding, so be sure your child drinks plenty of fluids every day.
  • If you catch your child in the act, ask him to stop, and direct his attention to another activity, such as talking or eating.
  • Bruxism may be caused by emotional stress. Relaxation methods to relieve stress and anxiety before bedtime may be helpful for preventing the behavior.
  • Gentle massage and stretching exercises to relax muscles before bedtime may also help.

Your Dentist Can Give Bruxism the Boot

No one knows how to stop teeth grinding better than your pediatric or family dentist. Untreated, teeth grinding can cause serious damage to tooth enamel and your child’s overall dental health, so don’t delay in addressing the problem. Before your first visit, make note of when and how the behavior occurs. The frequency of teeth grinding and any repeating patterns or circumstances can help your dentist determine the underlying cause. Potential treatments for the condition include custom mouth guards and prescription medications.

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