Teeth grinding, otherwise known as “bruxism” is generally considered a harmless if annoying habit. However, if your child is grinding their teeth, you may need to consider setting up a dental visit, because it can cause permanent damage over time.
The grinding of teeth occurs when the jaws move back and forth while the mouth is tightly closed, causing friction between the upper and lower teeth. This grinding back and forth causes a grating sound and wears down the teeth. On average two or three out of every ten children will acquire Bruxism. Usually, children outgrow the habit, but some will continue to have it through adulthood.
The cause of bruxism isn’t entirely clear, though there are a few factors. Teeth that aren’t aligned properly, as with an over- or under-bite, are the most likely cause. Although other causes can include; side-effect of certain medications, anxiety, or your child could be grinding their teeth to deal with pain.
For sufferers of bruxism, it is very common to see the results as chronic headaches, clicking jaws, earaches, and general pain in the facial area. If left unmonitored, it could also result in chipped teeth or wearing down of enamel which can cause tooth decay and cavities.
Most children are not aware of the fact that they are grinding their teeth. However, tooth grinding does make sounds. Monitor your child at night when they are asleep. If they share a room with a sibling, ask the sibling if they’ve noticed grinding sounds at all. Tooth grinding also causes jaw pain and soreness that may be associated with eating. If your child is having trouble eating, consider setting up an appointment with their dentist.
Because tooth-grinding is often related to negative emotions like worry, anxiety, or anger, help your child regulate these emotions as needed with soothing bedtime activities like a warm bath or reading a book together. If it is because of another medical issue, look into getting treatment for that as a primary cause. In the meantime, schedule an appointment for your child with their dentist. They can advise on Bruxism and may even recommend using a mouth guard temporarily to avoid grinding.
If you are worried that your child has Bruxism, contact All Star Dental to have your child seen by a dentist. With our five locations in the Chicago area, we can help your child deal with Bruxism and avoid longterm damage.