One of the most common concerns parents have about their children’s teeth is grinding. Bruxism, or the grinding of teeth, is very common in children and adults. Although most children limit their grinding to during the day, nighttime grinding (during sleep) is most prevalent. Bruxism can lead to a range of dental problems, depending on the frequency of the behavior, the intensity of the grinding, and the underlying causes of the grinding.
There are many psychological, physiological, and physical factors to grinding, including jaw misalignment (bad bite), stress, medications, and traumatic brain injury.
Common symptoms provide clues as to whether or not the child is grinding, including:
- Frequent complaints of headache.
- Injured teeth and gums.
- Loud grinding or clicking sounds.
- Rhythmic tightening or clenching of the jaw muscles.
- Unusual complaints about painful jaw muscles – especially in the morning.
- Unusual tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
- Excessive wear pattern on teeth.
How is bruxism treated?
In most cases, bruxism spontaneously ceases by the age of thirteen. In the meantime however, the pediatric dentist will continually monitor its effect on the child’s teeth and may provide an interventional strategy.
In general, the cause of the grinding dictates the treatment approach. If the child’s teeth are badly misaligned, we may take steps to correct this.
If grinding seems to be exacerbated by stress, we may recommend relaxation classes, professional therapy, or special exercises.
In cases where young teeth are sustaining significant damage, we may suggest a specialized nighttime dental appliance such as a nighttime mouth guard, depending on your child’s age. Mouth guards stop tooth surfaces from grinding against each other, and look similar to a mouthpiece a person might wear during sports. Bite splints, or bite plates, fulfill the same function, and are almost universally successful in preventing grinding damage.
If you have questions or concerns about bruxism or grinding teeth, please contact us at (818) 849-5457 or at [email protected]