Teeth grinding in children can often be caused by stress and anxiety but not only can grinding occur during the day, but at night too when they sleep. Grinding your teeth in your sleep or the proper term, bruxism, is so common amongst children that according to KidsHealth.org and experts, ”two to three out of every ten children will grind or clench their teeth.” For each individual case it is not quite sure why they have bruxism but some research has been done and experts have thoughts on this topic.
Why do Children Grind Their Teeth?
Children can outgrow bruxism as sometimes it is brought on by stress such as school, arguments with parents, or if they are hyperactive. Bruxism can begin as soon as their baby teeth or their permament teeth begin to come in. Grinding helps them to relieve this stress and thus it can continue easily in some cases depending on how stressful the situation is for them. Because bruxism can happen in their sleep, children will often be unaware they are grinding their teeth unless others notice while they or sleeping or if a dentist is able to observe evidence of it occuring.
Evidence of Bruxism
Other than observing it or hearing it happening, a parent can find out if their child has bruxism by asking questions. Ask a child whether or not they have a sore jaw after sleeping or after eating a meal.
Sometimes stress will not be a factor but it could be brought on by the anatomical features of their teeth if they are misaligned for example. A dentist can look for chipped enamel or unusual signs that are brought on by grinding during an exam.
How to Treat Bruxism
If bruxism occurs at night, a dentist can create a mold of the child’s teeth called a night guard so that it fits perfectly over a child’s teeth. Very similar to a mouth guard for sports such as football or hockey, it may take some time for a child to adjust to wearing it. Whether it is because a child is not use to wearing something such as a night guard for a long amount while they sleep or if it might need some proper adjustments. Encourage your child to continue to wear their night guard or have an extra visit to the dentist to adjust the mouth guard to properly fit their mouth. The night guard might be too lopsided and easily move when your child bites down or to loose and can be removed too easily. It should fit snug enough not to be too tight but loose enough to be easily removed in the morning.
Because teeth grinding in children can be brought on by stress, ask your child if there is anything that has been causing them stress such as school, friends, or siblings. Sometimes a good nights sleep, listening to music, taking a warm bath or shower at night before bed can help to eleviate bruxism as well.
Teeth grinding in children can occur in other cases other than from stress or misalignment of the teeth. It could be cause by bad habits as well. Pay attention to whether your child chews on pens or pencils and do not give your child gum. These habits and routines cause the jaw muscles to beome more use to clenching their jaws and this may make lead to a person grinding their teeth more often. Ask your child to pay attention to when they are grinding their teeth during the day and routinely ask them if they are doing so. If they are grinding their teeth, tell them to position the tip of their tongue between their teeth and this will help them to relax their jaw. Doing other things such as holding a warm wash cloth to the jaw or drinking something warm will help your child to relax.
Bruxism is not too serious of a condition. As already said, it can be easily eased with relaxation techniques or relieved with a night guard to keep your child from grinding their teeth. If you are concerned that your child has bruxism and wish to know for sure, visit your dentist for an evaluation.