What Parents Should Know About Teeth Grinding or Clenching in Children
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is common in children and can lead to dental issues and discomfort. Suppose your child wakes up with sore jaws or exhibits symptoms of teeth grinding. In that case, it is advisable to consult a pediatric dentist.
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What Is Bruxism in Children?
Bruxism is when children grind or clench their teeth without chewing. It often happens during sleep but can also occur during waking hours. Children are typically not aware of their bruxism habits.
What Are the Symptoms of Bruxism?
Around 15% to 20% of children regularly grind their teeth. Parents may sometimes hear their children grinding their teeth while they sleep. However, children, like adults, may not be conscious of their teeth grinding or jaw clenching, making bruxism challenging to detect.
Common symptoms and signs of teeth grinding or clenching in children include:
- Frequent headaches and earaches
- Jaw pain or difficulties with chewing
- TMJ disorders, such as jaw clicking and related problems
- Teeth wear and sensitivity.
- Subtle mouth movements (resulting from clenching) while the child is engaged in activities like watching TV, reading, studying, or focusing on a task
- Grinding or chattering sounds during sleep
What Causes Teeth Grinding in Children?
The exact cause of teeth grinding in children may not be clear in every case, as it can vary. However, it is often associated with one or more of the following factors:
- Teething pain or earaches
- Misaligned teeth
- Stress, anxiety, or excitement (the most common cause of teeth grinding)
- Medical reasons, such as hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, or certain medications
- Sleep problems like snoring or sleep apnea
What Are the Treatment Options for Teeth Grinding?
While not every case requires immediate attention, chronic teeth grinding in children can lead to long-term effects, including an increased risk of TMJ disorders, jaw problems, migraines, tooth sensitivity, and worn enamel. The treatment for teeth grinding varies based on each child’s case and may involve the following:
- Nighttime mouthguards (for unconscious sleep grinders)
- Protective sealants to safeguard tooth enamel
- Braces to correct alignment issues
- Therapy or counseling to address underlying stress
How Can Parents Assist Children with Bruxism?
As a parent, there are several ways you can help your child cope with bruxism:
- Promote relaxation: Since stress can trigger teeth clenching, create a calming bedtime routine for your child. Activities like a warm bath, soothing music, or reading a book can help establish a relaxed environment before sleep.
- Use a mouthguard: A mouthguard can protect your child’s teeth from grinding damage during sleep.
- Ensure a comfortable sleep environment: Ensure your child’s sleep environment includes a comfortable mattress and pillows, a cool room temperature, and minimal noise.
- Encourage good dental hygiene: Regular brushing, flossing, and checkups can help prevent dental issues associated with bruxism.
- Consult a pediatric dentist: Schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist to evaluate your child’s teeth, determine the extent of bruxism, and recommend appropriate treatment options.
If your child complains of or experiences teeth clenching or grinding symptoms, it is crucial to discuss this with a pediatric dentist. Bruxism can be challenging for parents and children. However, with proper treatment and management, your child can maintain a healthy and happy smile.
Proactive Approach to Pediatric Oral Health
For a proactive approach to pediatric oral health in Sacramento, CA, visit J Street Dental Group. Our dental practice offers a welcoming atmosphere, a caring staff, and an enjoyable experience for parents and kids alike. Take control of your child’s oral health today!
To schedule an appointment for teeth clenching or grinding treatment and prevention at J Street Dental Group, please call (916) 443-6153.