Teeth grinding in children is more common than most parents might think. It is most often due to improper alignment or teething pain when teeth are growing in. Stress or anxiety can also be a contributing factor in teeth grinding, even in very young children. In most cases, young children who grind their teeth grow out of it by the age of 5 or 6. However, medical intervention may be needed for some children. Keep reading for everything you need to know about teeth grinding.
What is teeth grinding?
The habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth is also known as bruxism and can cause a wide variety of complications, including headaches, jaw pain, sensitive teeth, and other oral health problems.
What does teeth grinding in children look like?
Children who grind their teeth may have trouble getting enough restful sleep at night. They may wake up complaining of ear, tooth, or jaw pain and may also experience pain when eating.
Although teeth grinding most often takes place at night, it may also occur during the day, especially if caused by underlying stress or teething pain. Children may also clench their teeth in addition to grinding them, often without even realizing it.
What are the reasons for teeth grinding in children?
Bruxism in children can be caused by a variety of factors, including emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression, and physical causes such as teething pain or misalignment of the teeth.
It is also commonly seen in children with hyperactivity disorder or other behavioral issues.
How can parents help manage teeth grinding in children?
Treatment of bruxism depends on the underlying cause of the teeth grinding. In many cases, there may not be much that parents can do to help their kids manage the tendency to grind their teeth. The good news is that most kids outgrow the tendency to grind their teeth by the age of 5 or 6.
Aside from reducing stress and treating any underlying mental health disorders or teething-related pain, the majority of treatment will likely focus on soothing the pain associated with bruxism. Children who grind their teeth at night often wake up with sore facial muscles the next day. Caregivers can apply heat or ice, massage the jaw and neck, assist their kids with physical therapy exercises for the mouth and jaw, and help teach their kids relaxation techniques.
In some cases, a mouthguard designed for overnight use may be able to assist parents in preventing teeth grinding at night. Parents may also want to consider a visit to their family dentist to check for tooth or jaw misalignment and any other oral health concerns.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s teeth grinding, give us a call today to meet with one of our knowledgeable local pediatricians in Littleton!