Bruxism In Children: What To Look For And How To Treat It
Updated: Mar 15
by Margie Monin Dombrowski
Bruxism, or teeth-grinding, can be a serious dental concern if this clenching and gnashing erodes your strong but finite tooth enamel. Bruxism in children, believe it or not, is rather common. Here's what you need to know about bruxism and what you can do for your child.
Causes of Bruxism
Two to three out of 10 children have bruxism, states the Nemours Foundation, but most will eventually outgrow it. It isn't clear what exactly causes bruxism, although misaligned teeth is one likely suspect. Often kids will grind their teeth if they're in pain, whereas other children may do it as a way to relieve anxiety or stress. Teeth-clenching and grinding can also come from hyperactivity, cerebral palsy or even a reaction to common medications.
Bruxism primarily causes headaches, earaches, facial pain and jaw problems, but watch your kids to keep them from chipping teeth or wearing down their tooth enamel. It's vital to know whether your child has the condition, even if they still have their primary teeth.
Finding Out If They Have It
Determining if your child has bruxism can be tricky, because the child often doesn't realize he or she is grinding at all. Check in on them at night to discover whether they make grinding noises while asleep, or ask a sibling who shares the room with them. If your child complains of a sore jaw, or pain when chewing, these can also signal bruxism.
Is he particularly worried or angry about anything? If these emotions coincide with the sound of teeth-grinding while they sleep, it's time to pay attention. Kids experience a lot of anxiety in general, and you may need to address the root cause through other medical treatment or stress-relieving interventions, like a warm bath or soothing music before bedtime.
What to Do Next
If you believe your child has bruxism, schedule a dental checkup for a proper diagnosis and further treatment. Your dentist may even order a custom mouth guard for wear at night to prevent grinding and the residual soreness. Battery-powered toothbrushes such as Colgate® Fresh 'N Protect™ can defend their teeth further by discouraging an overly aggressive brushing style.
Bruxism in children as a result of stress can be prevented by taking special care to help yours deal with it appropriately. The good news is most kids eventually grow out of the tendency, but it doesn't hurt to make that dentist appointment to first diagnose the problem, allowing you to then treat it the best way you can.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.