Does Your Child Grind His or Her Teeth at Night?

Bruxism, the grinding of teeth, is a common occurrence in both children and adults. While some children grind their teeth during the day, nighttime grinding during sleep is most prevalent. The frequency, intensity, and underlying causes of bruxism can result in various dental problems.

Several factors, including psychological, physiological, and physical aspects, can contribute to bruxism in children. Jaw misalignment (bad bite), stress, and traumatic brain injury are believed to be associated with bruxism. Additionally, grinding can occur as a side effect of certain medications.

What are some symptoms of bruxism?

Parents can typically hear intense grinding, particularly during nighttime bruxism. However, subtle daytime jaw clenching and grinding can be harder to identify. Certain symptoms can provide clues as to whether a child is bruxing, including:

  1. Frequent complaints of headaches.
  2. Injuries to the teeth and gums.
  3. Loud grinding or clicking sounds.
  4. Rhythmic tightening or clenching of the jaw muscles.
  5. Unusual complaints of painful jaw muscles, especially in the morning.
  6. Unusual tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods.

How can bruxism damage my child’s teeth?

Bruxism is characterized by the grinding of the upper and lower jaws. It can cause jaw discomfort, headaches, and ear pain, especially in cases of vigorous grinding. Even if the child is unaware of nighttime bruxism and parents can't hear it, the condition of the teeth provides important clues to the pediatric dentist.

Chronic grinders often have excessive wear patterns on their teeth, and specific areas of tooth enamel may be worn down if jaw misalignment is present. Bruxism can also lead to chipped teeth, facial pain, gum injuries, and sensitivity to temperature. In severe cases, it can even contribute to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) at an early age.

Monitoring the condition of the teeth helps the pediatric dentist assess the impact of bruxism on the child's oral health. Early identification and intervention are key to managing and preventing further complications associated with bruxism.

What causes bruxism?

Bruxism can be caused by various factors, including jaw misalignment and stress. Children with developmental disorders or brain injuries may be at higher risk. Treatment options may include botulinum toxin injections or a nighttime mouthguard. If bruxism is sudden, medication evaluation may be necessary. Identifying the cause helps guide appropriate treatment.

How is bruxism treated?

The treatment of bruxism, or teeth grinding, depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Here are some common approaches to bruxism treatment:

  1. Behavioral modifications: Encouraging stress reduction techniques, relaxation exercises, and creating a soothing bedtime routine can help reduce bruxism related to stress and anxiety.

  2. Mouthguards or splints: Dentists may recommend a custom-made mouthguard or splint to protect the teeth from grinding and provide a cushioning effect. These oral appliances can help alleviate the symptoms of bruxism and prevent further damage to the teeth.

  3. Dental corrections: In cases where a misaligned bite or dental issues contribute to bruxism, orthodontic treatment or dental adjustments may be recommended to improve the alignment and reduce grinding.

  4. Medications: In some cases, medications such as muscle relaxants or botulinum toxin injections may be prescribed to relax the muscles and reduce grinding activity. However, medication is typically used as a last resort and under careful supervision.

  5. Stress management and counseling: If bruxism is related to stress or psychological factors, counseling or therapy may be recommended to address and manage underlying stressors or emotional triggers.

If you have questions or concerns about bruxism or grinding teeth, please contact our office.

Contact Us.We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.