Today, we’re going to talk about a very common kids’ oral health concern that we see all the time at Children’s Dental Specialty: bruxism. Never heard of it? That’s okay! Bruxism is simply the medical term for teeth grinding or jaw clenching, and it affects up to a third of children, especially during sleep. While it can be alarming to hear your child grinding their teeth as they sleep, kids usually outgrow bruxism as they get older. However, if teeth grinding has been going on for quite some time, it may be a cause for concern. Make sure to prepare yourself how to handle your child’s dental anxiety

As pediatric dentists in Scottsdale and Phoenix, it’s our job to take care of your little ones’ teeth from infancy through adolescence. We’re also here to help educate parents about children’s teeth so you can do your very best to care for them at home. Wondering why children grind their teeth? Worried about your child grinding his teeth at night? Here’s everything you need to know about bruxism and how to tell when it’s time to contact a pediatric dentist.

Why Do Children Grind Their Teeth?

The exact cause of teeth grinding isn’t clear, but experts believe it is a response to tooth discomfort, such as emerging or misaligned teeth. If the cause of tooth grinding is developmental, kids will usually stop once they have all of their adult teeth.

If teeth grinding is ongoing or doesn’t seem to be related to tooth discomfort, there might be a bigger reason under the surface. Stress and anxiety are common causes of bruxism and can be the result of any number of factors. Perhaps your child has a big test coming up or maybe your family has recently moved. Changes to routine can affect children more than you think and teeth grinding may be a sign of distress. Other causes of teeth grinding include reactions to medications, hyperactivity, being tongue tied, or medical conditions such as cerebral palsy.

Effects of Teeth Grinding

Sometimes, you may never even know your child is grinding his or her teeth because the issue resolves on its own. Other children may experience mild symptoms such as headaches or earaches that typically go away once tooth grinding stops. In ongoing cases, your child may experience more serious side effects of bruxism, including damage to tooth enamel, chipped teeth, increased temperature sensitivity, facial pain, or jaw issues.

Signs of Bruxism in Kids

As we’ve mentioned, teeth grinding is extremely common and generally not something you need to worry about. That said, it’s also not good for your child’s teeth and can cause unnecessary wear and tear over time. Not sure if your child is grinding her teeth? Here are some signs of bruxism to watch out for:

  • Grinding noises while your child is sleeping
  • Complaints of a sore jaw
  • Changes in eating habits or discomfort with chewing
  • Chipped teeth
  • Behavioral changes

If you notice any combination of these symptoms, it may be an indicator that your child is grinding his or her teeth. Once again, kids usually outgrow bruxism on their own but if you notice that it’s not going away, it’s always best to consult your Scottsdale or Phoenix pediatric dentist.

How to Treat Teeth Grinding in Kids

We want to reassure you once again that bruxism typically goes away on its own. But waiting it out can be tricky at best. How long should it take for kids to stop grinding their teeth? When should you see a pediatric dentist? If you’ve been waiting for your child to stop grinding his teeth with no luck, a pediatric dentist can give you the guidance you and your child need.

In most cases, no treatment is required for bruxism but having a pediatric dentist keep an eye on things can give you peace of mind. If your child’s teeth grinding is causing facial or jaw pain, or causing damage to the teeth, we may suggest a special mouthguard for your child to wear at night. This custom device will be made specifically for your child’s teeth and can help to quickly resolve teeth grinding.

If your child’s teeth grinding is caused by stress or anxiety, talk to your child about what’s upsetting them. Ask them what’s triggering their stress and then help them find positive coping strategies. Giving your child space to talk about their feelings can go a long way in relieving stress. Learn more here

Is your child grinding his or her teeth? Concerned that your child’s bruxism isn’t going away? Still have questions about teeth grinding in general? The doctors at Children’s Dental Specialty are here to help. Call us to book a free consultation and get your child’s bruxism under control today.

Dr. Veronica

Author Dr. Veronica

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