Is your child a teeth-grinder?

You tiptoe into your sleeping child’s room for one last goodnight kiss, and expect to hear the sound of peaceful, quiet breathing.

Except instead you hear their teeth grinding together whilst they’re looking distressed and you’re not sure what to do or if this is even a problem.

Why is your child clenching their teeth?

No one really knows why this happens exactly, although studies have been conducted to try and get to the bottom of it.

Some believe it’s a response to the pain of another condition, such as an earache or teething; the clenching and grinding may help ease the pain.

It could even be that the child’s jaw is misaligned and this may cause the grinding.

Stress may also be a big cause; when kids feel nervous or tense or angry, they might clench their jaws or grind their teeth.

Some common stressors for kids include:

School-related issues: tests, homework, projects.

Personal issues: changes in routine such as divorce, the birth of a sibling, a move to a new house, or pressures from friends, bullying and so on.

Medical conditions: children with cerebral palsy, for example, or those taking certain medications.

Is teeth-grinding harmful to your child’s teeth or jaw?

Teeth-grinding or Bruxism can go undetected with no harm done and eventually it’s outgrown.

However sometimes it can cause minor discomfort such as headaches or earaches.

In more severe cases however, grinding of teeth can result in more serious problems, including:

  • Worn down tooth enamel
  • Chipped, fractured or lost teeth
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Facial pain and jaw conditions, such as temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ)

Is teeth grinding treatable?

Talk with your dentist; they may suggest a mouthguard that your child wears at night to stop the grinding.

If you believe their bruxism stems from stress, talk with their paediatrician about ways to reduce stress; this may include counselling, exercise and other methods.

Here are some other tips:

Make sure your child avoids foods and drinks with caffeine, such as coca cola and chocolate.
Urge them not to chew on pens or pencils, and perhaps limit and/or cut out gum.
Teach your child how to relax their jaw: If you notice they’re clenching, or if they catch it themselves, they can put their tongue between their front teeth; this immediately relaxes the jaw.

If you have concerns about your child’s grinding and clenching, bring it up with your dentist.

Want to know more about how we create healthy, happy and cavity-free smiles? Pop into the practice for a tour, or call us on 020 7078 0822 to arrange a consultation!

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