Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common habit in both children and adults. Since teeth grinding and jaw clenching often occur during sleep, you may not be aware of your child’s nightly habit right away. However, just like adults, bruxism needs to be addressed in children. Pediatric dentistry encompasses all facets of a child’s oral health, including bad dental habits.
If you hear the cringing sounds of grinding teeth from your child after they drift into sleep, you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s study of 854 patients ages 17 and younger, nearly 38 percent had either daytime or sleep bruxism. While subconscious bruxism is likely to go away on its own in a child, it still demands a trip to the dentist to ensure the teeth and jaw are not at risk or already damaged.
Why Is Your Child Grinding?
There are many reasons for teeth grinding. It may be that your child’s upper and lower teeth are not aligned properly. Orthodontic correction may be needed in such cases. Other times, a child may have an earache or new tooth coming in and the act of clenching or grinding is a response mechanism to cope with the pain. Most commonly, however, both adult and pediatric bruxism can be traced back to emotional stress or anxiety. If possible, it is important to determine the root cause of your child’s teeth grinding habit so that the most effective treatment can be administered. For some children, it may simply involve helping them cope with a stressful situation.
What’s the Risk?
If your child’s teeth grinding habit goes on for a long period of time, it may produce consequences to their dental health. Chronic bruxism can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder and damage to teeth enamel. Your child may complain of a sore jaw, pain when chewing, headaches and earaches. More severe TMJ disorder can lead to cracked or chipped teeth, which need to be repaired even if it is primary (or baby) teeth that are affected.
Call a Pediatric Dentist
At Dental Care Acworth, we care for every member of your family. When it comes to your child’s teeth grinding habit, we can help. If necessary, an oral appliance can be custom fabricated for your child to wear at night if the bruxism occurs during sleep. Our office is proudly equipped to protect your child’s smile as well as restore it when necessary.