Should You Worry If Your Child Grinds Their Teeth?

Teeth grinding, formally known as bruxism, is more common in children than most parents realize. Bruxism involves grinding, clenching, or gnashing of the teeth during the night, often leading to headaches, earaches, facial pain, jaw problems, and tooth damage. Two out of every ten children experience bruxism sometime in their lives.

Although bruxism does not have a clear cause, bruxism in children usually stems from a misaligned bite, anxiety, stress, hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, inner ear pressure, or a reaction to common medications. Diagnosing bruxism with your child can be difficult, as the warning symptoms can often be mistaken as other minor health issues. If you think your child may be suffering from bruxism, be sure to monitor his or her behavior while he or she is sleeping.

Do you see faint movement or hear strange noises coming from your child’s mouth at night? Have you noticed any wear, tear, or unusual “shortening” of your child’s smile? Has your child complained of morning headaches, a sore jaw, or pain associated with chewing food? Whether your child’s smile consists of primary teeth, permanent teeth, or a mix of the two, it is important to identify bruxism, as it can lead to chipping and wearing of the enamel.

The good news? Most children outgrow bruxism, and the majority of pediatric cases do not require treatment. Grinding often decreases between ages 6-9, completely disappearing by age 12. However, it never hurts to schedule a consultation to discuss your child’s symptoms. If your child’s smile is visibly deteriorating from bruxism, a mouth guard may be prescribed by your dentist.

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About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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