Most of us know about tooth grinding in adults. It occurs at night more often than during the daytime and can result in headaches, jaw pain, tooth sensitivity and even chipped teeth. What you might not know is that 15-33% of children suffer from bruxism, the dental term for tooth grinding. More prevalent in toddlers than school-aged children, bruxism usually disappears during adolescence.
What Causes Bruxism?
According to the American Dental Association, the following contribute to tooth grinding:
- Sleep Disorders
- Abnormal Bite/Jaw Misalignment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Some ADHD and psychiatric medications
What Are the Signs of Bruxism?
Some parents can hear their child’s grinding. More often, however, the following “clues” lead parents to the problem:
- Complaints about headache, earache, and/or jaw pain, especially in the morning
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods or beverages
- Injury to teeth or gums, (most often discovered by the pediatric dentist)
- Rhythmic clenching of the teeth, often in an effort to relieve jaw pain
Tooth Grinding Damages Teeth
When I see excessive wear on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of a child’s molars, I suspect he or she may be bruxing. This is reinforced by the parent or child’s confirmation of headaches, earaches and/or jaw pain, especially upon waking.
Bruxism Treatment in our NYC Pediatric Dental Office
As mentioned above, most children will stop bruxing on or near their 13th birthday. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry supports intervention for bruxism when the habit is of sufficient persistence, duration, or intensity to damage the permanent teeth or cause other complications that may affect the child’s well being. Our pediatric dentist will assess these factors and let you know if intervention is needed. Intervention may include patient education, behavioral therapy, orthodontic intervention, medication, or a mouth guard.
If you have questions or concerns about bruxism or grinding teeth, please contact us at iSmile Kids pediatric dental group in Lower Manhattan.