grinding or clenching teeth in kids

Have you ever heard your child make a loud (often wince-inducing) grating noise when they’re asleep? If you have, chances are that they are probably grinding their teeth.
What is Grinding or Clenching
Bruxism is the medical term for the condition where a person grinds, gnashes, or clenches their teeth. It most often occurs at night and is an unconscious and involuntary action. Teeth grinding in children is probably more common than you realized. It’s estimated that as many as 3 out of every 10 kids grind their teeth by the time they’re 5-years old. The good news is that in most cases, it’s no cause for concern and that most kids outgrow it on their own.

What Causes It?
In most cases, improper tooth alignment is the cause of teeth grinding. An abnormal bite, missing teeth, or crooked teeth may be the reason your child is grinding their teeth. Stress and anxiety can also cause bruxism but is a less common cause in children.

What Does it Do? 
Most notably, teeth grinding is annoying to other family members because of the unpleasant sound. It’s possible that if your child is grinding their teeth, they may not even notice it themselves. Others may find it quite uncomfortable and experience one or more of the following: 

  • Headaches
  • Chipped teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Worn down tooth enamel 
  • Pain of the face, ear, or jaw

How Parents Can Help
Usually there isn’t much you can do so try not to stress to much about it. No matter what is causing the grinding, having a good relaxing routine to help your child relax before bedtime is great. Maybe try a warm bath or shower. You might also listen to soothing music with your child or try reading a book together.
If you feel like stress might be causing the bruxism, talk to your child about what is worrying them and do your best to help them learn how to cope. If you feel that the stress or anxiety is more than you can help with, call your pediatrician. They may recommend breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques or perhaps consider a children’s counselor.

Call Us
If you think your child is grinding their teeth, give us a call. We can check for chipped enamel or other damage. If it looks like run-of-the-mill kid grinding, we might not need to do anything. If there is damage that is cause for concern, your child may need to wear a mouthguard. Again, the good news is that most kids outgrow grinding once they lose their baby teeth and usually we don’t need to do anything. Until that time, just make sure you are keeping up with good oral hygiene habits, avoiding sticky sugary snacks and helping floss those teeth with tight contacts.  Most importantly keep up with routine dental visits and let us be part of your team in helping avoid cavities!


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