Have you ever peeked in on your sleeping child and noticed a strange squeaking or rubbing sound coming from his mouth? He could be grinding his teeth.
According to KidsHealth, about 20 to 30 percent of children grind their teeth when they sleep at least once a week. Teeth grinding in children, also known as bruxism, often resolves on its own, but sometimes, it persists into adulthood. Learn more about this condition and what you can do to treat it.
What Causes Teeth Grinding in Children?
Several factors may cause your child to grind his teeth, including:
- Misaligned upper and lower teeth
- Nervous tension, worry, or anger regarding school, friends, or family life
- Behavioral issues, such as hyperactivity and ADHD
- Certain medical conditions and medications
- Subconscious response to pain from an earache or while teething
The Effects of Teeth Grinding
In many cases, bruxism goes undetected with no ill effects until the child outgrows the habit. Other times, teeth grinding can have these negative consequences:
- Keeping a sibling awake at night because of the loud rubbing noises
- Headaches or earaches
- Worn tooth enamel
- Chipped, flattened, or otherwise misshapen teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods
- Pain while chewing or opening the mouth
- Facial pain
- Jaw problems, including TMJ
Signs Your Child has Bruxism
Because teeth grinding happens while your child sleeps, he’s often unaware of it. Usually, parents or siblings identify the problem because they notice the strange squeaking or rubbing sound coming from the child’s mouth as he sleeps. Other signs of bruxism include a sore jaw or face upon waking in the morning and pain while chewing or opening the mouth.
How to Treat Bruxism
Assuming the child doesn’t outgrow grinding his teeth, it’s important to treat the condition to prevent many negative effects from cropping up. Here are your options for treating bruxism:
- Wear a night guard: Dr. Evanson can create a custom night guard based on a mold of your child’s teeth. This is similar to the protective mouth guard athletes wear. The idea is to create a buffer between the upper and lower teeth, which prevents them from grinding together. It may take a few nights for your child to grow accustomed to wearing a night guard, but the positive results are well worth it.
- Use enamel-strengthening toothpaste: This doesn’t treat bruxism at the source, but it does help decrease enamel wear and tooth damage, two major symptoms of teeth grinding.
- Relax before bedtime: Whether your child’s teeth grinding is caused by physical or psychological factors, winding down before bed can be incredibly effective. Encourage your child to take a warm bath or shower, listen to soothing music, or read a book together.
- Address stress: If you determine that stress is a contributing factor, ask your child what’s bothering him and see what you can do to help. If he’s worried about an upcoming test at school, help him study if you can. When something more serious is causing your child to have chronic stress, you may want to speak with your doctor or have your child see a therapist.
- Add or change prescriptions: Since medical conditions and medication can cause teeth grinding, talk to your doctor about altering your child’s prescriptions to see if that helps.
Consult with Dr. Evanson About Your Child’s Teeth Grinding
Evanson DDS is the best resource you have for treating bruxism and managing its effects. Along with prescribing and creating a night guard, we can also monitor your child’s dental health and offer personalized tips for getting a good night’s sleep free of teeth grinding.
Call our Parker office at (720) 409-0008 or contact us online to schedule an appointment for your child with Dr. Evanson.Leave a reply →