Does your child sleep peacefully, or have you noticed they have begun to grind their teeth? This can make a very harsh and unpleasant sound and the medical term for this condition is called bruxism. It is surprisingly common in kids as it affects between two to three children out of every ten, but the good news is that most will outgrow it.
What Causes Teeth Grinding in Children at Night?
Bruxism generally occurs during deep sleep. Even though teeth grinding has been extensively researched and studied, no-one is quite sure what causes it. It may be due to a child having incorrectly aligned upper and lower teeth as this puts stress on the teeth and jaw joints. Other teeth grinding causes include teething. Children may find teeth grinding helps to relieve some of the pain as their baby teeth come through the gums, or it could be in response to earache.
This condition has also been linked to stress, for example a child may begin tooth grinding if they are worried about something at school or if they have had a sudden change to their routine. Hyperactive kids and children with medical conditions such as cerebral palsy can develop tooth grinding habits.
Teeth Grinding Symptoms
Unless you hear your child grind their teeth, you may be unaware they have bruxism but there are other signs of this condition. Night time bruxism can wear down and chip teeth, and your kid may complain it hurts to eat very hot or cold foods due to increased tooth sensitivity. Severe bruxism can cause headaches and earache or in rare cases may affect their jaw joints (temporomandibular joints). If your child complains of facial pain then it is worth booking an appointment with our pediatric dentist who can examine them for signs of bruxism.
Treating Teeth Grinding in Children
Many kids will outgrow bruxism and won’t require any treatment as we will simply keep an eye on their dental health. If the bruxism is causing facial pain then we will most probably recommend a night guard. This is a custom-made mouthguard which is similar to a sports mouthguard. It is worn overnight and prevents the teeth from contacting. Your child may need some time to get used to wearing their night guard but it is worth persevering and gradually building up the length of time it is worn each night.