Bruxism: Is Your Child Grinding His or Her Teeth at Night?
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the constant grinding or gnashing of teeth or clenching of jaws. Many children may engage in this behavior while they are in the phases of deep sleep or during their waking hours when they are experiencing extreme stress. A child can have bruxism as soon as his or her lower, and upper teeth have emerged.
Typical signs of bruxism can include:
- Chipped or worn teeth
- Extreme tooth sensitivity to cold or hot foods or drinks
- Feeling pain when chewing
Worn tooth enamel
- Noticeable sounds of grinding when your child is asleep
- Reports of an aching face or jaw when your child awakens
Why Does My Child have Bruxism?
There are multiple reasons bruxism can occur. It can be the result of the natural development and growth of a child. Bruxism can also be a product of anxiety or stress. It is not uncommon for children who have ADHD or are hyperactive. Children who are taking certain medications or have certain neurological movement disorders, such as cerebral palsy, can exhibit bruxism as well.
What Can I Do If My Child Has Bruxism?
While there is very little you can do to prevent bruxism that results from the growth or development of your child, you can take steps to prevent permanent damage to their teeth. If other factors, such as stress, are causing your child to grind his or her teeth, elimination of the stressors may stop the behavior.
- Schedule an appointment with a dentist. Regardless of why your child has bruxism, it is important that you take him or her to a pediatric dentist for a comprehensive evaluation. The dentist can provide a custom-fitted mouth guard your child can use at night to stop teeth grinding and can advise you on other measures that can reduce the effects of the behavior.
- Help your child sleep better. Ensuring that your child is sleeping well may help alleviate sleep-related bruxism. Establishing a bedtime routine and avoiding drinks or foods that can act as a stimulant can help make it easier to fall asleep. You can also make sure that your child engages in daily physical activities to help ensure that sleeping will be restful.
- Identify and eliminate stressors. For bruxism that is a result of stress or anxiety, you can address or remove what may be worrying your child. Initiate conversations with your child to determine what may be bothering him or her.
- Encourage relaxation. Before your child goes to bed, make sure he or she takes a warm bath to help relax the muscles and alleviate any worries or stress that have accumulated throughout the day. Try to also limit screen time before bed.
If your child is showing signs of bruxism, the dentists at Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry may be able to help. Contact us today to arrange an evaluation.