Mother to a teenage stepson, a young daughter and a newborn.. I am taking one step at a time.
Reasons why children are grinding their teeth day and night
Have you noticed that your child is grinding his or her teeth either during the day or at night? Have you wondered why? Is this something that’s got you worried? I had the same thoughts as you when my daughter was grinding her teeth! I deep-dived into the internet and library books and here are the sharings.
Your kid might be suffering from a parafunctional involuntary activity that’s called bruxism (medical term). The reasons for bruxism are varied and it’s very common among kids. Bruxism occurs when your kid presses his or her upper or lower jaw down on each other and that’s what causes the grinding.
Teeth grinding is not considered a disease, but you need to monitor your child to ensure that the grinding gets worse, and if you’re really worried then ask your health care provider what you can do to help your child to stop the bruxism.
Approximately 33% of children grind their teeth and they tend to do it at two peak times: the first is when their baby teeth are emerging and the second time is when their permanent teeth make their appearance.
Bruxism in children tends to occur more often during the night, while sleeping, than during the day. A lot of studies have been conducted to determine the reasons why children grind their teeth, but nothing definitive has been concluded. They haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact causes of it. Nevertheless, there are some reasons why all this teeth grinding occurs. Knowing them could help you understand why he or she’s doing it.
Possible Causes of Teeth Grinding
- The alignment of your child’s top and bottom teeth is not perfect and the teeth grinding is the way they get to align them in their mouths.
- Your child may be suffering from a toothache or earache and his or her way of responding to that ache may result in the grinding of teeth. That’s how they relieve the pain.
- During the day, your kid may be experiencing situations where he or she’s nervous or tense and that may be causing the teeth grinding.
- Stressful situations and anger also could be reasons why your kid’s grinding his or her teeth. A stressful situation like a test at school or a change in routine (the arrival of a new sibling or a new teacher at school) or a discussion with you or with a sibling can also trigger bruxism.
- Hyperactive kids are also more likely to be affected by bruxism
Some kinds of allergies can also cause your child to grind his or her teeth.
- There are some studies that suggest that pinworms could be some kind of trigger for bruxism. These studies are not conclusive.
- Certain sleep disorders may be link to teeth grinding too. Check out for drooling or sleep talking. Teeth grinding when your kid’s sleeping doesn’t necessarily mean that his having a nightmare (a common mistake among parents), it could mean nothing or it could mean that he or she is relieving some stress or tension experienced during the day.
Symptoms to tell if your child is grinding their teeth while awake or in sleep
Your child’s teeth grinding may happen more often while he’s sleeping, so taking notice of the symptoms is not easy unless you look specifically for those during the night. Bruxism is a habit that’s not life-threatening, nevertheless, it may lead to some issues that could turn serious if not address, so be on the lookout for the following symptoms.
Pain or soreness in the jaw
If in the morning or when he or she wakes up from a nap, your child appears to have pain or some kind of discomfort on his or her face. Severe jaw pain due to teeth grinding, if not address early on may cause hearing loss and in some very rare cases, it could change the appearance of the face.
Take notice if your child complains frequently about headaches.
Your child complains about this discomfort whenever he eats or drinks something cold or hot.
Look for any signs of redness in the gums, or other kinds of trauma like swelling or bleeding. The loss of tooth enamel due to the grinding may cause chipped, fractured, flattened teeth, and could be the cause of your child’s tooth sensitivity. In very severe cases, the grinding causes a wear down of the teeth until they are only stumps resulting in the loss of said teeth.
How to stop your child from grinding his or her teeth
In most cases, children’s bruxism tends to go away after your child grows up; about the time his or her permanent teeth make their appearance. But if you’re a little bit concern and want to help him or her get rid of that habit to prevent further issues, then there are some tips you can implement (like routines or things to do). This could help him or her stop the teeth grinding, especially during the night.
Help your child to relax before bedtime
Try some relaxing activities with him or her before bedtime. You can try massages (in the jaw and face). Or how about trying some relaxing exercises like stretching (make it fun, so he or she goes along).
You can also try a warm bath, or you can make your child a playlist with relaxing music and play it together before bedtime. You can read to your kid one of his or her favorite books, or you can get creative telling stories or singing lullabies.
Be sure that his or her bedroom is a peaceful environment
Dim lights and cooler temperatures can make your child sleep more comfortably. Don’t use those fluorescent bulbs. Keeping the temperature around 65 °F could help too. Make sure that your child’s bed is the right one, that he or she feels comfortable in it. An uncomfortable bed is not conducive to a peaceful sleep.
Put a warm cloth on your child’s jaw before bed
Run a cloth under warm water and hold it against his or her jaw. This can help your child relax the jaw. Warm temperatures can help a better blood flow. If her or his jaw is not tense before sleeping it could help to prevent teeth grinding.
Try to minimize the amount of caffeine he or she drinks during the daytime.
As caffeine can alter your child’s sleep schedule, make sure no extra amount of sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, or coffee are consumed during the day.
Don’t let him or her chew anything but food.
Pencils or pens are a definite no. If your child is already grinding his or her teeth, chewing on pencils or pens can damage their teeth, and this may cause some severe issues. Help him or her break this chewing habit.
Also, it is better if you don’t let your child chew gum, as this causes his or her jaws to clench, and this is what you’re trying to avoid.
Teach him or her how to avoid teeth grinding
If he or she is old enough, you can teach them how to avoid the teeth grinding when they notice that’s happening. It may take some work but it’s doable and it can help him or her to stop the habit. How’s it done? It’s pretty simple. Tell them to place the tip of their tong between the teeth whenever the teeth grinding occurs. This can help stop the grinding.
Getting a mouthguard
In some cases, your child’s teeth may be sustaining significant damage due to bruxism, so your dentist may recommend getting him or her a mouth guard (also known as splint or night guard).
What is a mouth guard or night guard? It’s a retainer-like piece of plastic that can cover either the top or bottom set of your kid’s teeth. This guard will cushion your kid’s teeth from the force of the clenching and grinding. That way, not only his or her teeth are protected, but he or she can get to sleep better.
You can either have the mouth guard made to fit your child’s teeth or you can buy one off-the-shelf. The important thing is that he or she feels comfortable using it.
There’s a variety of mouthguards on the market, here are a couple of ones that have very good reviews that I have used before.
Dental Duty Professional Dental Guard –Thin Fit Small Size
This mouth guard can be trimmed and customize to fit your child’s mouth. It’s very comfortable and soft.
Pro Teeth Guard Custom Dental Night Guard for Teeth Grinding
This mouth guard is very convenient, custom wise, because you purchase a home kit to create the mold yourself by using the putty material that comes with the kit. Once you do that, you send it to the company’s dental lab, and shortly after you will receive a customize mouth guard for your kid.
Teeth grinding or bruxism in children is a fairly common habit that your kid could develop. The symptoms are not life-threatening but you have to be on the lookout so they don’t turn into serious issues. In most cases, bruxism disappears once your kid grows but if it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to consult your dentist so he can guide you into helping your child alleviate the symptoms and get rid of the teeth grinding.
© 2020 Muriel B Tewes