Lifetime Dental Care
14573 Potomac Mills Rd.
Woodbridge, VA 22192
What You Should Know About Your Child’s Teeth Grinding
Have you ever heard a strange noise coming from across the room only to realize that it is coming from your child’s mouth? Teeth grinding, which is also known as bruxism, mostly occurs at night but it may also occur during the day as well.
Babies that are undergoing the teething process may grind to alleviate some of the discomfort of those sore gums caused by erupting teeth. As our young children are discovering the world and their bodies it is only natural that they would try to explore what these brand new teeth can do.
Stress, anger, or frustration can cause many children to tense many muscles in their body, including those jaw muscles that are associated with tooth grinding. Those children and teens with ADHD may also grind as well due to the anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, and hyperactivity associated with their individual condition.
In recent studies there have been correlations between childhood sleep apnea and teeth grinding. The action of sliding the jaw forward at night can open up the airway, making it easier for your child to breath. Those children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids, chronic mouth breathers, or those that make audible breathing sounds in their sleep should be evaluated by their pediatrician.
While most children will outgrow their tooth grinding with little to no effects, some children may experience temporary or long-term effects. These effects are dependent on the cause, duration, and severity of the habit. Nighttime grinding or clenching can wear down tooth enamel, which may lead to tooth sensitivity to cold and hot. In more severe cases it may lead to jaw pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of your child’s grinding, which may make treatment more difficult. If stress is suspected to be a concern for your child, attempt relaxation techniques at night such as relaxing music, a comforting doll, adjusting the temperature, or a warm bath. In most cases your child will outgrow the habit. For older children with permanent teeth and jaws experiencing soreness and tooth damage, a night guard may be recommended.
Visit your child’s pediatric dentist to find out more about grinding or any potential long-term effects.