If your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what our team also calls bruxism, is common in children. In fact, three out of ten kids grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their teenage years.
Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they’re doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning, they feel no jaw, facial, neck, or shoulder pain. In most cases, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.
There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. Our team will tell you that teeth grinding is not something to take lightly. Teeth grinding can have serious consequences that if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.
Teeth Grinding Symptoms
The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:
- Grinding noises when your child is sleeping
- Complaints of tightness or pain in the jaw
- Complaints of headaches, earaches, or facial pain
- Complaints of pain when chewing
- Tooth sensitivity
- Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth
Solutions and Fixes For Teeth Grinding
Grinding of the baby teeth rarely results in problems. However, teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, headaches, wear on the teeth, and TMD (temporomandibular disorder). Consult your dentist if your child’s teeth look worn or if your child complains of tooth sensitivity or pain.
Specific tips to help a child stop grinding his or her teeth include:
- Decrease your child’s stress, especially just before bed.
- Try massage and stretching exercises to relax the muscles.
- Make sure your child’s diet includes plenty of water. Dehydration may be linked to teeth grinding.
- Ask your dentist to monitor your child’s teeth if he or she is a grinder.
No intervention is usually required with preschool-age children. However, older children may need temporary crowns or other methods, such as a night guard, to prevent the grinding.
If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, our team will be able to help. Please give us a call at our office! We look forward to treating your child!