Do you hear your child grinding their teeth while they sleep? Are you afraid they are causing damage to their teeth and jaw? Ask your dentist if you have any concerns over your children’s bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), but here is a brief overview about why kids have bruxism and what should be done.
Causes of Bruxism in Children
About 15-30% of children grind their teeth, often while they sleep. Why have they started to do this?
- Teeth Erupting: When teeth come in, it is called erupting. This can irritate the mouth and is the most common cause of bruxism in kids. They grind when their baby teeth come in, and again when their permanent teeth come in.
- Illness, Allergy, and More: When children have an allergy, illness, irritation in their mouth, a medical condition, or even an earache, they can respond with bruxism.
- Dehydration: Kids run around all day and often forget to drink enough water. This can cause teeth grinding since dehydration has also been linked to bruxism.
- Stress/Anxiety: This cause of bruxism is more common in adults, but can be a cause of tooth grinding for children.
Should Children Have Their Bruxism Treated?
Since they have baby teeth, kids don’t usually develop problems as a result of teeth grinding and clenching. Eventually, most of them grow out of it. However, for kids who show tooth wear; complain of pain in the teeth, jaw, or head; or are older, they may need to see a dentist for treatment. Your dentist will probably recommend your child wear a mouth guard when they sleep. This stops clenching and grinding damage, making it the most effective bruxism treatment. However, other actions you can take to help stop your child’s bruxism include:
- Reducing Stress/Anxiety: Though most kids don’t have reasons to feel stressed, some may suffer from anxiety. If you think this is the cause of your child’s bruxism, try to decrease their stress, especially before bedtime. This can be done with a massage or stretching exercises.
- Drink Water: Since dehydration has been linked to bruxism, make sure your kid is getting enough water to drink every day.