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How to Deal with Teeth Grinding in Children

Apr 17, 2014 - 09:04 AM EST |  Posted under: Dental Tips, General

Have you heard the sound of teeth sliding back and forth over one another, the harsh echo of hard tooth enamel gnashing against itself? That sound is the sound of grinding teeth, also known as bruxism. Teeth grinding in children and adults is a common problem.

Bruxism is defined as the involuntary or habitual grinding of the teeth. It often occurs in moments of deep sleep, but can affect some individuals during periods of stress. Three out of every ten children are affected by teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Most children outgrow the problem, however parents should be aware of the issue as it can affect a child’s oral health.

What causes Teeth Grinding in Children?

The exact cause of teeth grinding in children remains unknown. Experts believe that many children grind their teeth due to misaligned teeth or in response to pain from earaches, teething, or toothaches. In each of these cases, many children will outgrow the habit.

For some, teeth grinding is the result of stress, tension, or anxiety. If your child has a big test or project coming up at school or a recent big change, such as a new school or teacher, teeth grinding may ensue. Conflicts with parents, teachers, friends, or siblings may also induce teeth grinding in children. Alleviating the emotional stress should treat the issue.

Certain medications or medical conditions, like cerebral palsy, also can cause teeth grinding in children. Talk to your doctor and pediatric dentist if you suspect these causes.

What is the Impact of Teeth Grinding in Children?

In most cases, teeth grinding is a short-term issue that leaves behind no lasting side effects. During the short term however, your child may be affected by earaches, headaches, or damage to their teeth. If you notice that your child suffers from teeth grinding for an extensive period of time, talk to your pediatric dentist. This issue may need to be addressed to protect your child’s long-term oral health. Solutions include mouth guards or addressing emotional distress.

Signs of Teeth Grinding in Children

In most cases, children are unaware they are grinding their teeth. It is often a parent or sibling that helps to identify the problem. Signs to look for include:

  • Your child makes grinding noises while sleeping
  • Your child complains of a sore jaw or face in the mornings
  • Your child experiences pain with chewing

If you observe signs that your child may be grinding his or her teeth, visit a pediatric dentist. Your dentist can help ensure that no damage is occurring or help prevent further damage.

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