Teeth Grinding Q&A

Do the sounds of gnashing from your child’s bedroom worry you? Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is not uncommon. Studies show that two out of every 10 kids younger than 11 years of age experience bruxism, and most will outgrow it well before they become adolescents. This fact may do little to ease your concern about the potential reasons or repercussions of all that nighttime gnashing. Read on to find out more about teeth grinding and what you can do to stop it.

Does tooth grinding prevent my child from getting a good night’s sleep?

Tooth grinding typically happens during sleep, when your child is unaware she is doing it. Parents are more likely to lose sleep for their worrying and distraction due to the harsh sound.

Why does my little one grind his teeth?

Adults may grind their teeth as well, and if you’re one of them, your child inherited a higher probability to develop bruxism. Reasons for the habit are unconfirmed, but there are many theories floating around. Improper alignment of the baby teeth, pain from teething or ear aches, and anxiety are some of the common culprits.

How bad is it for him?

Wearing of the enamel is one of the worst repercussions of teeth grinding and even that is not likely, except due to zealous and persistent grinding. This may also result in pain, including headaches or jaw aches, and if this happens, you should definitely check in with the dentist – a professional may be able to determine the underlying cause, or rule out some possibilities, as well as treat any damage that may have resulted in the teeth.

How can I make it stop?

Make an appointment at your child’s dentist to see if misalignment could be an issue. In this case, a comfortable, custom night guard may help solve the discomfort. Some kids grind their teeth as a reaction to growing pains or anxieties due to life changes or stressors at school. Settling in to a consistent bedtime routine with relaxing rituals, like reading a story together and drinking warm milk, should help. Other tips include muscle relaxation via massaging or stretching, and making sure the little one drinks plenty of water – dehydration may be a trigger.

Most often, teeth grinding will disappear on its own. According to a study on 150 bruxers between 6-9 years of age, only 17 individuals retained their bruxing habit after 5 years. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry agrees that it is self-limiting and usually doesn’t progress to adult bruxism.

What if I grind my teeth, too?

You’re probably aware that you grind your teeth because a loved one has told you. Check in with the dentist to see if an abnormal bite or crooked teeth may be bothering you. Bruxism may cause permanent and severe damage in adult teeth, but the good news is there should be a simple solution. We recommend the following preventative tips to help reduce the frequency of adult teeth grinding:

  • Reducing or eliminating caffeine from the diet.
  • Eliminating alcohol.
  • Avoiding chewing gum, biting your fingers, or biting on other objects that aren’t food to reduce the tendency to clench.
  • Training yourself to relax your jaw during the day.

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