When you look in on your sleeping child, you want to hear the sounds of sweet dreams: easy breathing and perhaps an occasional sigh. But some parents hear the harsher sounds of gnashing and grinding teeth, called bruxism, which is very common in Children.
Bruxism is the medical term for the grinding of teeth or the clenching of jaws. Many kids have it (2 to 3 out of every 10 will grind or clench, experts say), but most outgrow it. Bruxism often happens during deep sleep phases or when kids are under stress.
Lots of kids who grind their teeth aren’t even aware of it, so it’s often siblings or parents who identify the problem.
Some signs to watch for:
- Grinding noises when your child is sleeping
- Complaints of a sore jaw or face after waking up in the morning
- Pain with chewing
If you think your child is grinding his or her teeth, visit the dentist, who will examine the teeth for chipped enamel and unusual wear and tear, and spray air and water on the teeth to check for unusual sensitivity.
If damage is found, the dentist may ask your child a few questions, such as:
- How do you feel before bed?
- Are you worried about anything at home or school?
- Are you angry with someone?
- What do you do before bed?
The exam will help the dentist see whether the cause is anatomical (misaligned teeth) or psychological (stress), and come up with an effective treatment plan.
Most kids outgrow bruxism, but a combination of parental observation and dental visits can help keep the problem in check until they do.
In cases where the grinding and clenching make a child’s face and jaw sore or damage the teeth, dentists may prescribe a special night guard. Molded to a child’s teeth, the night guard is similar to the protective mouthpieces worn by athletes. Though a mouthpiece can take some getting used to, positive results happen quickly.
Book online your appointment at Turó Park Medical Center with our Children and General Dentist.