Many parents worry when they hear their child grinding their teeth, but there are two sides to this story.
A controversial opinion suggests that teeth grinding during toddlerhood is usually not a cause for concern because it can stimulate jaw growth and development. However, if the child does not grow out of this habit as they get older, excessive teeth grinding can be harmful. It could lead to chipped teeth and enamel erosion, among other symptoms.
It is worth mentioning that most children will stop grinding their teeth before their permanent teeth come in.
Bruxism in children can become a cause for concern if you notice the following symptoms in your child:
- Jaw pain
- Morning headache
- Grinding noise during the night or when the child is asleep
- Mouth sensitivity
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding That Require Dental Attention
Bruxism can cause the teeth to look worn down and chipped. In the worst case, it has been known to gradually damage the tooth enamel. The problem can expose children to future dental problems if it is left untreated and may cause sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
Children who grind their teeth often complain of having a sore jaw, both when they are awake and when they are chewing. Teeth grinding leads to earache, facial pain, and headaches.
Besides the physical symptoms of teeth grinding, there are a few emotional issues that are worth mentioning, including:
- Eating disorder
Emotional issues can create a vicious child that further exacerbates teeth grinding.
Why Do Children Grind Their Teeth?
Studies have shown that bruxism likely occurs due to a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. Children may be more likely to engage in bruxism if they are experiencing stress and secondhand smoke.
Stress is one of the most common causes of bruxism. The condition can cause children to clench their jaw muscles and grind their teeth. Studies have confirmed the association between bruxism in children and stress. It has also been shown that bruxism is a common way of coping for school-going children with the growing stress of academia.
Age also plays a factor in teeth grinding. More specifically, younger children are more likely to engage in this behavior. Babies experience bruxism as soon as their teeth begin to come in, and it has been reported in children under 12 months old. Infants often use bruxism as a coping mechanism to deal with the discomfort associated with teething.
Toddlers may also resort to teeth grinding to cope with stress and separation anxiety. It should be noted that bruxism during infancy and toddlerhood is unlikely to lead to problems with the teeth.
Teeth grinding does become a problem during a child’s school-going age as they start shedding their baby teeth. As mentioned earlier, children often use teeth grinding to cope with the stress associated with academics and homework.
Children with misaligned teeth and other dental issues are more likely to experience bruxism. This is because misaligned teeth lessen the stability of the jaw. This leads to stress on the joints and muscles in the jaw, causing bruxism. It is important to fix these dental issues before they can lead to other issues.
Braces are a popular option for treating the misalignment of teeth. Some patients may also be recommended to undergo reductive coronoplasty to level the teeth and fix their bite.
Sleep disorders, such as apnea, can be very harmful to one’s health. Sleep apnea, in particular, can cause the child to stop breathing when they are asleep; this can inhibit several neurological processes that commonly occur while they are sleeping. The body’s natural response to sleep apnea is to grind the teeth as a means to reopen the blocked respiratory airway. If your child is dealing with sleep apnea, you may notice other symptoms besides bruxism, such as forgetfulness, mood disorders, and lethargy.
How to Treat Bruxism in Children
One of the most effective remedies for treating bruxism in children is to use a dentist made mouth guard. A mouth guard does this by alleviating the tension around the jaw muscles. This can lighten up the pain in the jaw and pain. When the jaw clenches at night, the mouthguard will force the tightening to loosen up, which can prevent grinding.
It should be noted that a mouth guard doesn’t stop bruxism, but it does alleviate some of the symptoms associated with teething riding, such as chipped teeth and animal erosion. Although it is not recommended to get a prescription for a mouthguard, we recommend taking your child to a dentist.
The dentist will take impressions of your child’s teeth so you can order a customized mouth guard for a comfortable fit.
There are a few stretching exercises that you can accommodate to normalize the jaw muscles and joints, as well as other muscles around the head. To develop a specific exercise routine, you should take your child to a doctor. A therapist can provide your child with a regiment of mouth exercises for maximum muscle relaxation.
As discussed earlier, bruxism is one of the most common coping mechanisms that children use to deal with stress. As a parent, you should have a discussion with your child and try to identify their sources of stress. Once you have a list of common triggers, you should try to phase them out. Consider making small changes in their life, such as adopting a new pet or taking them outdoors.
School can be a huge source of concern for children. Young children may be stressed about dealing with bullies, making friends, and getting along with their teachers. They can also be anxious about their grades and tests.
The sources of stress may expand for a child as they get older. For example, teens are more likely to be stressed than children. Parents can utilize various strategies to keep stress in check, including discussions, taking them outdoors, and physical exercise.
You can use a teeth grinding guard to protect your child from the consequences of bruxism. Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks for your child to get used to using a mouth guard. For more information, visit our website to shop night teeth guards.