As a parent, seeing your child sleep soundly at night provides comfort and peace. However, there may be times when instead of a sound sleep, you hear your child’s worrying sounds of gnashing and teeth grinding. This occurrence, which is also known as bruxism, is apparently common in children.
According to Colgate, Bruxism, or teeth-grinding, can be a serious dental concern if your child’s teeth clenching and gnashing erodes his or her tooth enamel.
What causes Bruxism?
Experts cannot pinpoint a specific reason why bruxism happens. It may be caused by the misalignment of both the top and bottom teeth of a child. It can also be the child’s subconscious response to pain brought about by perhaps an earache, a child’s teething phase, or just to rub a sore muscle. For some kids, teeth grinding eventually go away as they grow older.
Another possible reason for bruxism is stress, nervousness, or anger. For instance, a child might be tensed and worried about an upcoming school exam, an abrupt routine change, or even an argument with a parent or sibling, which can cause enough stress to a youngster to trigger teeth grinding or jaw clenching by nighttime.
Some hyperactive kids and those with other medical conditions may also develop and experience bruxism.
How is your child affected by bruxism?
Many pediatric cases of bruxism go undetected with no ill effects. However, some experience headaches or earaches. But usually, teeth grinding is more bothersome for the other family members who hear the sound than to the child who has it.
At bedtime, your child’s teeth grinding and jaw clenching can wear down his or her tooth enamel, causing chipped teeth, increased temperature sensitivity, and severe facial pain and jaw problems, such as Temporomandibular Joint Disease (TMJ). It is comforting to note though that most children who grind their teeth do not have TMJ problems unless the grinding and clenching happen every night.
What are the signs you should look for?
Checking out if your child has bruxism can prove to be tricky since your child may not even realize that he or she is teeth grinding at all. What you can do is to check in on your child to see whether he or she makes grinding noises while sleeping, or ask a sibling who shares the room if ever. If your child complains of a sore jaw or pain when chewing, these can also signal bruxism.
A question you may ask yourself also is if your child is particularly worried or angry about anything recently.
If these emotions coincide with the sound of teeth grinding while your child is asleep, then it may be time to pay attention. Kids experience a lot of anxiety in general, and parents may need to address the root cause through other medical treatment or stress-relieving activities. Taking a warm bath or playing soothing music before bedtime may help.
What do you do next if your child has bruxism?
If you think your child has bruxism, schedule a dental check-up with his or her pediatric dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your child’s dentist may order a custom mouthguard to wear at night to prevent teeth grinding and possible residual soreness.
It is also possible that bruxism may be a child’s natural reaction to growth and development, and if so, most cases cannot be prevented. However, bruxism due to stress can be avoided. So talk with your child regularly about his or her feelings and offer help in dealing with the stress. Make sure as well to go for regular dental visits as your child’s pediatric dentist can help determine and treat bruxism.