Home » How to Help Your Child Get Over the Grind of Bruxism 

How to Help Your Child Get Over the Grind of Bruxism 

Tackling the topic of dental health with your children at an early age is paramount. The habits they develop now are the very foundations of their oral health later in life, so devoting ample attention to the topic and any issue that may arise is highly recommended. However, what if their bad oral habits are out of their hands?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a rather common occurrence among toddlers and children of preschool age. According to studies, it is possible that almost 50% of children are affected by it to some level, and for most, it doesn’t pose a serious concern. So, while you shouldn’t panic the first time you hear the sound of little teeth grinding in the night, it should definitely not be brushed off, especially if it persists. To help clear your doubts, here’s what you should know about bruxism in children and what you can do to help your little one if they, too, experience it at some point.

Children and bruxism

As we already said, bruxism is nothing rare or unusual. Oftentimes, it’s nothing more than a “childhood habit” your little one will eventually outgrow as they reach their school-age or teenage years. It might involve teeth grinding or simply the clenching of teeth, either in one’s sleep or while awake. Bruxism in itself is not particularly dangerous and many kids don’t even realize that they are doing it. It can easily go undiagnosed unless those sleeping in the same room as the child are woken by the sound. 

That said, teeth grinding is not exactly harmless, either. While a lot of kids don’t experience it, you can easily suffer from jaw, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as a headache from bruxism. Teeth grinding can also wear out the teeth and even cause cracks, leading to more problems later on. In addition, there may be long-term implications such as jaw problems you want to steer clear of by all means.

Causes of bruxism in children

Knowing the reason why your child may be grinding their teeth will help you remedy the issue more effectively. Here are the most common causes:

  • Pain – Teeth grinding is often a result of experiencing pain or discomfort.
  • Misaligned teeth – Improper teeth alignment may make children more susceptible to clenching and grinding their teeth.
  • Stress – While this is not the most common cause for children, stress and anger can indeed lead to bruxism.

Diagnosing bruxism

Besides the aforementioned familiar sounds that may draw your attention to your child’s teeth grinding problem, there are other signs that may help you notice and act appropriately.

  • Complaints about jaw/neck/shoulder pain – Pain or tension in these areas or even in their ear and other facial areas are good indicators.
  • Headaches – If your child often complains about unexplained headaches, that may give you a tip.
  • Signs of wear on teeth – Chips and cracks or even loose teeth can be a result of bruxism.
  • Sensitive or painful teeth – Pain while chewing or sensitivity can be caused by the wear and tear grinding causes.

What to do?

Teeth grinding is a habit that is often left in childhood. Typically, the pain or misalignment that was the root cause of the issue is solved as the child’s permanent molars emerge. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something to protect your child from the discomfort teeth grinding can cause. In addition, if the problem persists and you’re starting to feel worried about your child’s dental health, reaching out to professionals is the best course of action.

  • Consult a dentist – Your family dentist will not only be able to spot the warning signs and confirm your suspicion, but they will also be the most reliable source to point you in the right direction.
  • Look into protective mouth guards – You can find anti-bruxism mouth guards that will protect your child’s teeth from the harmful effects of grinding.
  • Consult a therapist – Depending on the cause of your child’s issue, the wisdom of a therapist may be what they need. They may help them become conscious of their clenching/grinding problem and control it better.
  • Help them relax – Finally, as said, stress can also be a cause of bruxism, though it’s more common among older children. If you suspect that your child is going through a rough patch, it’s a good idea to talk to them about their worries. Teach them stress management strategies such as maintaining good sleep hygiene. Try listening to soothing music or reading them a book before bed so they are more relaxed.
  • Remind them not to clench their teeth – We cannot control what we do in our sleep, but we can at least control what we do while we are awake. Remind your child throughout the day not to clench their jaw or contact a behavioral therapist to teach them how to do so.

As a parent, improving the dental health of your whole family is most likely a top concern of yours. If you notice that your child suffers from bruxism, take the aforementioned steps to ensure they get over it soon and it does not cause them further discomfort or other dental complications down the line.