Childhood Teeth Grinding

Hearing your child grind their teeth is a natural cause of concern for parents. However, teeth grinding is a common condition among children, and most children tend to outgrow this habit without any long-term effects. 

Approximately 20-30% of children will grind their teeth at some point during their childhood. However, the majority children with this condition will not need treatment because many of them cease the habit when their permanent teeth start coming in. Some children may require treatment if they continue the habit after age 6. Common treatments for pediatric teeth grinding include wearing a custom-made mouthguard at night, orthodontic treatment to correct bite positions, and lifestyle changes to decrease stress. 

If you have noticed that your child has been grinding their teeth, let their dentist know at their next appointment. However, if your child is complaining of tooth sensitivity or if you notice chips in their teeth, schedule an exam for them as soon as possible. 

Reason Children Grind Their Teeth:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Pain from an earache or teething
  • Stress 
  • Side effects from certain medicines
  • Certain medical conditions (hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, etc.)

There are a variety of reasons children grind their teeth. This tendency often runs in families, but experts have not concluded whether teeth grinding is due to genetics, environmental factors, or a combination of both. Some studies have indicated that boys tend to grind their teeth more than girls, but further research needs to be done to confirm this trend. Stress and secondhand smoke are common triggers for children who are predisposed to grinding their teeth. 

Research suggested that nighttime grinding is linked to poor sleep quality. You can improve your child’s sleep by altering a few environmental factors, such as :

  • Ensuring the child’s bedroom is dark and quiet
  • Ending screen time at least an hour before the child’s bedtime
  • Feeding your child a balanced diet that is low in added sugars. 

Before bedtime, stick to relaxing activities, such as having your child take a warm bath, reading a book to them, or singing calming songs. 

Problems Caused By Prolonged Teeth Grinding:

  • Headaches
  • Damaged tooth enamel 
  • Chipped teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity 
  • Pain in the face, ear, or jaw

There are several methods you can try to ease your child’s symptoms. If you notice your child clenching their teeth during the day, work with them to relax their facial muscles. Avoid giving your child gum, and stick to feeding your child foods that are easy to chew. Additionally, a cold or hot compress can soothe a sore jaw.

Talk to your child’s dentist if your child is complaining of tooth sensitivity, morning headaches, or if you consistently hear your child grinding their teeth at night. We will evaluate their smile and create an effective treatment plan to protect their smile.

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