Important Facts for Parents Regarding Teeth Grinding or Clenching in Children

Teeth Grinding or Clenching in Children

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is common in children and can lead to dental problems and discomfort. If your child wakes up with sore jaws or exhibits symptoms of teeth grinding, it may be time to consult your pediatric dentist.

Table of Contents

What Is Bruxism in Children? 

Bruxism is when a child grinds or clenches their teeth while not chewing. It usually occurs during sleep but can also happen during waking hours. Often, they are not consciously aware that they are doing it.

What Are the Symptoms of Bruxism? 

It’s common for around 15% to 20% of children to grind their teeth regularly. Parents may sometimes hear their children grinding their teeth while they sleep, but often kids, like adults, are not aware of this habit, making it difficult to identify bruxism.

Some common symptoms and signs your child may experience while grinding or clenching their teeth include:

  • Frequent headaches and earaches
  • Jaw pain or difficulty chewing
  • TMJ disorders (jaw clicking and other problems)
  • Wear and tear on the teeth or tooth sensitivity
  • Subtle mouth movements (from clenching) while the child watches TV, reads, studies, or focuses on a task
  • Chattering or grinding sounds while sleeping

What Causes Teeth Grinding in Children? 

The root cause for teeth grinding in children isn’t always 100% clear, and each case is unique. But it can usually be linked to one of these reasons:

  • Pain from teething or an earache
  • Teeth that aren’t aligned properly
  • Stress, anxiety, or excitement – this is the most common cause of teeth grinding
  • Medical reasons, like hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, or some types of medicines
  • Sleep problems like snoring or sleep apnea

What Is the Treatment for Teeth Grinding? 

Although not all cases require immediate attention, children who grind their teeth may experience long-term consequences. There is an increased risk for TMJ, jaw problems, migraines, tooth sensitivity, and worn enamel. Each case of teeth grinding is different and requires a personalized treatment which may include the following:

  • Nighttime mouth guards (for unconscious sleep grinders)
  • Proactive and defensive sealants to protect tooth enamel
  • Braces to correct alignment issues
  • Therapy or counseling to address underlying stress

How Can a Parent Help a Child with Bruxism? 

As a parent, there are several things you can do to help your child with bruxism:

  • Promote relaxation. Stress can trigger teeth clenching, so it’s important to help your child relax before bedtime. A warm bath, soothing music, or reading a book can go a long way to create a relaxing environment before bedtime.
  • Use a mouthguard. A mouthguard can help protect your child’s teeth from the damage caused by teeth grinding at night.
  • Make sure your child’s sleep environment is comfortable. Having a comfortable mattress and pillows, a cool room temperature, and minimal noise are essential for a good night’s sleep.
  • Encourage good dental hygiene. Good dental hygiene can help prevent dental problems associated with bruxism. It’s important to motivate your child to maintain good oral hygiene habits by brushing and flossing regularly, as well as scheduling regular checkups with the dentist.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist. Have your child’s teeth evaluated by a pediatric dentist to assess the extent of the bruxism and recommend treatment options.

Suppose your child is complaining about or experiencing teeth clenching or grinding symptoms. In that case, discussing this with their pediatric dentist is important. Bruxism can be a frustrating condition for both parents and children. However, proper treatment and management can help your child have a healthy and happy smile.

Take a Proactive Approach to Pediatric Oral Health in Sacramento, CA

At Sacramento River Dental Group in Sacramento, CA, we make visiting a pediatric dentist easy for parents and kids with a fun, welcoming atmosphere, and compassionate staff. Take charge of childhood oral health today!

To schedule an appointment to talk about teeth clenching or grinding treatment and prevention at Sacramento River Dental Group, please call (916) 391-4848.

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