Excessive grinding of the teeth and excessive clenching of the jaw is a referred to as bruxism, and despite a common belief that it is more of an adult issue, about one third of children actually grind their teeth.
Many of these children tend to grind their teeth at specific points in their development, such as when their baby teeth appear and subsequently, when their adult teeth come through.
Bruxism is just one reason why many patients subsequently seek help from an expert on facial pain like Steven B. Syrop DDS. If you have a child who is grinding their teeth, you are not alone. So here are some practical tips and some information about the issue that you may find helpful.
The positive point to make straight away is that the majority of children do lose their teeth grinding habit once they have progressed passed the milk and adult teeth stages and have established a fuller set of teeth.
No one is exactly certain why children resort to grinding their teeth but likely factors can include improperly aligned teeth, or if they happen to have an irregular contact between their upper and lower teeth. It could also be as a result of suffering from an illness or medical condition and their teeth grinding may also be symptomatic of a psychological factor like anxiety or stress. Teeth grinding is a common symptom for Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD. A common solution for kids with SPD that need to “chew” to relieve stress is teething jewelry or “chew beads”.
Grinding their baby teeth is not considered particularly problematic or harmful and rarely results in any long term problems, their actions can however cause them to experience jaw pain and headaches. If you notice that your child’s teeth are looking worn or they are complaining of experiencing tooth sensitivity or pain, you should get the dentist to take a look as soon as possible.
Helping Your Child to Stop
If there is an underlying reason why your child is continuing to grind their teeth, you should investigate the possibility that the grinding is a reaction to a nutritional deficiency, an allergy or some psychological factor that you need to identify.
A lot of children tend to grind their teeth more whilst they are sleeping rather than during waking hours, which can make it hard for the parent to spot the problem as quickly as you would do if they were carrying out the grinding during the day.
Try to get them in a relaxed state just before they go to bed and do as much as you can to alleviate any stress that they are experiencing. You could consider some massage and stretching exercises to relax their muscles just before bed and also make sure that they remain properly hydrated throughout the day, as dehydration has been potentially linked to teeth grinding.
As a general guide, you should get your dentist to monitor your child’s teeth regularly anyway but no specific dental intervention should be necessary with pre-school children. If however, older children are continuing to grind their teeth, this may result in them needing something like a night guard or maybe a temporary crown, in order to prevent the grinding.
If your child is grinding his teeth due to stress or a disorder like SPD, consider getting him or her teething jewelry.
Guest Blogger: Megan Anders is a dental technician with several years of experience. When she has the chance, she enjoys writing about some of the things she has learned while working in the field. You can find her posts on a variety of websites, mainly dental and health blogs.