During the night, you check on your children to see if they are already sound asleep. You peek into their bedroom, and instead of hearing the sound of sweet dreams, you hear harsh sounds such as gnashing and grinding of teeth, called bruxism. Bruxism is a medical term for teeth grinding or clenching of jaws.
According to KidsHealth, teeth grinding is common as it affects 30 percent of children, and most will eventually outgrow it. Though it is not yet clear, misaligned teeth are one of the likely suspects that cause grinding. Some grind their teeth when they are in pain, while others do it to relieve anxiety or stress. Kids do it for several reasons: misaligned bite, hyperactivity, earache, and medical conditions such as cerebral palsy.
Grinding can affect your child’s mouth and overall health if the condition persists. As stated by Mayo Clinic, kids may experience headaches or complain about pain in or around the ear due to the pressure of clenching the jaw at night. More so, it can damage the teeth’s enamel, making it hard for your child to chew or make their teeth sensitive to hot or cold food and drinks. If the teeth grinding and clenching continue, long-term effects can happen in children include chipping, flattening, and fracturing the teeth according to Mount Sinai Hospital. In addition to that, as stated by The Bruxism Association, there is a chance of developing temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ, which can cause further pain in the jaw and can make it difficult for a child to open his mouth or chew.
Determining if your child has bruxism can be tricky because kids may not know that they are doing it while they are sleeping. One way to know is to check on them or ask a sibling who shares a room with them. If your child complains of the sore jaw when chewing, it can be a sign of bruxism. Additionally, check if your child is particularly anxious or stressed about something. If that coincides with the grinding, then it is time to pay attention.
If you notice that your child has bruxism, there are many ways to help them. If the cause of grinding is stress, help your child relax by either reading their favorite book together before bed or try relaxation exercises. When they are experiencing severe anxiety, take them to a therapist to alleviate the cause of grinding. If your child is older, talk it through with your children and work together to find a solution.
Aside from the measures you can do at home, schedule an appointment to a dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment for bruxism. In some cases, a dentist may order a mouthguard to wear at night to prevent grinding and residual soreness.
Bruxism in children can be prevented by taking special attention to your child’s needs. The good news is, most kids eventually outgrow it.
We, at Kidsmile, are passionately dedicated to providing quality dental care for your child. Our goal is to partner with you to help your child establish and achieve excellent oral health.
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