When you check on your child at night, the last thing you want to hear is the sound of teeth grinding. If your child grinds his teeth, it may comfort you to know that the problem, called bruxism, is fairly common in children: 20 to 30% of children grind or clench their teeth. It’s particularly common among children that still have their baby teeth. Fortunately, most kids will outgrow it
Bruxism usually occurs during sleep, but can occur during the day, especially when under stress. Bruxism can be caused by
- Poor dental alignment
- Emotional stress
- Pressure in the ears, such as in airplane flights,
- Sleep apnea,
- Enlarged tonsils,
- Snoring/mouth breathing,
- Cerebral palsy,
- Certain medications
If you notice grinding noises when your child is sleeping; if he or she complains of a sore jaw or face, especially in the morning; if you child has pain with chewing or seems sleep-deprived during the daytime, please call for an appointment.
Headaches, earaches, facial pain, and jaw problems (such as temporomandibular joint disease) can result from bruxism but the most likely result is flattening of the tops of the molars. Thankfully, most children do not experience adverse effects unless they have been grinding and clenching for some time.
Dr. Dikansky routinely checks for a variety of dental problems each time she examines your child. She can determine if bruxism is a problem.
The majority of children do not require any treatment for bruxism, as most of them will outgrow it. Teeth grinding generally lessens between the ages of 6 and 9 and most children stop completely by age 12. While some dentists may advise the use of a night guard, Dr. Dikansky does not recommend a night guard for two reasons: (A) it can interfere with jaw bone growth and (B) it’s a choking hazard in young children.
Please call our office anytime you have concerns about your child’s dental health. We’re here to help!