Child Bruxism 101...
Consequences of Teeth Grinding and How It Can Be Stopped!
If you’re hearing the sounds of grinding and gnashing from your child’s bedroom, you might be hearing the sounds of bruxism. Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding, and is fairly common in children. Kids tend to outgrow this habit, but parents should be aware of it and help prevent it so it does not last into adulthood.
There are many possible causes of bruxism, and experts can’t pinpoint just one. Stress can be a major cause of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Tests at school, moving to a new town, or a death in the family are all stressful situations that can cause bruxism. Your child may also be dealing with physical stress, such as an earache or other pain. Children sometimes deal with this physical pain by grinding and clenching for relief. Hyperactive children are also prone to grinding their teeth. The best way to determine the cause of bruxism is to consider your personal situation and talk with your healthcare provider.
Most importantly, bruxism should not be ignored. There are several issues that can arise when teeth grinding goes untreated.
- Wearing down tooth enamel. Bruxism can cause the enamel of the tooth to erode. While the use of fluoride can help to strengthen enamel, this ingredient works better when it isn’t fixing problems caused by tooth grinding.
- Increased sensitivity. When tooth enamel wears down, teeth become more sensitive. This can cause pain when eating hot and cold foods unpleasant, and create further problems if your child is a picky eater.
- Facial pain. Grinding teeth every night can cause the muscles in your child’s face and jaw to ache during the day.
- Chipped teeth. If the bruxism is severe, your child could chip a tooth. This has the potential to cause embarrassment for your child, or permanent damage to an adult tooth. It could also mean a large dental bill for you if your child needs a pediatric dental crown or even tooth replacement.
- Damaging dental crowns. Teeth grinding can lead to damaging of dental crowns. Stainless steel crowns have been known to crack and splinter, and Zirconia crowns can also crack and/or shatter. However, there is a pediatric dental crown that is rated above all others on the market. ;)
It’s important to help your child stop his or her bruxism to avoid these potential issues. Ending tooth grinding early means healthier teeth now and better dental habits for the future. Here are some tips to curb child bruxism.
- Develop a calming nighttime routine. If you believe the bruxism is stress related, helping your child relax at night can help end the habit. A warm bath, reading stories, or playing music before bed are all great strategies. It’s important to keep bedtime the same every night.
- Avoid “hyper” foods. Consuming sugar and caffeine right before bed can elevate your child’s heart rate, keep them awake, and cause tooth grinding.
- Talk it out. If your child or family is dealing with something personal and stressful, talking through the problem can help. It might be best to address it during the day, so the anxiety doesn’t keep your child awake at night. When it’s time for bed, reassure your child that the stressful situation will pass.
- Consider a night guard. Talk to your child’s dentist about the bruxism. If you are having trouble stopping the habit, or the tooth grinding is beginning to cause damage, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard at night. This is similar to a mouth guard worn for sports, and helps to prevent bruxism. Wearing the guard can take time to get used to, but it can help end the habit quickly and prevent further damage.
- Talk to your doctor. If you believe the bruxism is caused by more serious medical or behavioral issues, it’s time to see a pediatrician. Your family doctor will be able to evaluate your child, and find the root cause of the bruxism. Some children are dealing with an earache, while others may be dealing with ADHD. Every child is different and deserves the personal attention of a medical professional.
Whatever the cause of your child’s bruxism, rest assured it can be treated. Start by developing relaxing nighttime habits, and see what kind of improvements that makes. Always talk to your dentist about any concerns or questions you have. Your child’s smile deserves the best!