Why Do Kids Grind Their Teeth at Night?
Some kids grind their teeth at night while they’re asleep, especially those who are 11 years old or younger. In fact, roughly two to three out of every ten kids exhibit this behavior. Is this something you should worry about if your child does it? Find out more about bruxism, or teeth grinding, so you can determine if your child needs treatment for it.
Causes of Nighttime Teeth Grinding
Kids who grind their teeth usually don’t even realize that they’re doing it. Parents or siblings are typically the ones who point it out after hearing this sound, which can be loud at times, during the night. There are different reasons for this behavior, including the following:
- Experiencing pain or discomfort from tooth decay, sinus problems or other issues that affect the teeth, jaw or face
- Dealing with stress on a daily basis
- Having anxiety
- Being hyperactive
- Having a reaction to a medication
The underlying cause of bruxism isn’t fully understood, but treating what seems to be causing it can provide relief.
Dangers of Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding is a behavior that many children end up growing out of as they get older. While some dental professionals do not consider it a cause for concern, this behavior can damage teeth when it frequently occurs or over an extended period of time. When kids grind their teeth, this can cause the tooth enamel covering them to erode, which can result in tooth sensitivity and an increased risk of decay or infections. Bruxism can also increase the risk of kids having tiny fractures or cracks in their teeth. Tooth grinding can also cause kids to have soreness or discomfort in their jaw, especially when they wake up in the morning. If grinding interferes with sleep, kids might also have poor sleep quality, which can cause behavioral problems. If you’re worried about this habit in your child, there are ways to treat it.
Treatment for Teeth Grinding
Bringing your child in for a dental visit is the first step in treating this behavior. This visit provides dentists with a chance to check the condition of your child’s teeth in order to look for cracks or other signs of damage. If stress is causing bruxism, helping your child find ways to reduce it can help stop teeth grinding. Dentists also sometimes have children wear a night guard to prevent bruxism from occurring while they sleep. This mouth guard helps lower the risk of damage to your child’s teeth, such as the erosion of tooth enamel. Your child should only have to wear this night guard for a limited period of time. When teeth grinding has stopped, your child won’t have to put a mouth guard on before going to sleep.
If you have kids who grind their teeth, please contact us at Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry to make an appointment.