Is Your Child Suffering from Bruxism? Here’s What You Need to Know
Do you find your child grinding his or her teeth often during the day or at night? This is an indicator of Bruxism – known as excessive and involuntary grinding of teeth especially during night. It is a common pediatric dental issue which if left untreated can worsen over time and may lead to serious oral health issues such as TMJ disorder. Several factors can be responsible for Bruxism such as stress and anxiety, teething, reaction to certain medications, ear infection or malocclusion.
Let’s understand what symptoms to look for, the causes and the possible treatment options for Bruxism.
What are the Symptoms?
Apart from teeth grinding, these symptoms will help you decide whether your child is suffering from Bruxism:
- Audible clicking sounds
- Chipped or injured teeth and gums even though they don’t seem to have any injury
- Tightening or clenching of jaw muscles in a rhythmic fashion
- Frequent headaches, ear aches or overall pain in face
- Pain in the jaw muscles especially in the morning
- Teeth sensitivity
What are its Side Effects?
Continuous teeth grinding can have the following side effects on your child’s oral health:
- Enamel may be scraped away leading to teeth sensitivity
- Cavities if already present can get worse due to constant teeth grinding
- Pulp region gets exposed which makes teeth vulnerable to dental issues
- The risk of jaw fracture increases
- May result in jaw pain or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder
- If your child has undergone any reconstructive treatment on teeth, it may get destroyed due to continual grinding
How to Help with Night-time Bruxism?
Here’s what you can do to help your child reduce teeth grinding at night for a peaceful sleep:
- Dentists may recommend mouth guards. This oral device prevents the teeth from touching each other. Mouth guards are customized and are to be worn before going to sleep and removed the following morning. Children involved in contact sports also use mouth guards to protect their teeth from any injury. However, these protective oral devices are recommended only for children who have permanent teeth.
- Parents and children may both benefit from psychological evaluation. This is usually prescribed if the child is in midst of any major life change.
- Playing soothing music at bed time can help them relax before sleeping.
What are the Treatment Options?
- Make conscious efforts to stay involved in their life and try to figure out the source of anxiety. Talk to them about their feelings and discuss solutions for any problems they might be facing. Small steps like regularly attending their PTA meetings, talking to them about how their day was, reading them a bedtime story etc., can help reduce their stress and anxiety.
- Children with poorly aligned teeth find it difficult to close their mouth properly and hence become prone to teeth grinding. Consult your dentist and discuss the possible corrective treatments for teeth realignment.
- Try pacifiers. These are known to reduce the damage caused due to Bruxism. Their soft rubbery nipple helps address the child’s need for sucking and can have a calming effect on children who tend to get anxious. But keep in mind that prolonged usage especially after the permanent teeth have erupted can lead to dental problems.
- You can also apply a warm compress on your child’s cheek if the pain due to teeth grinding shoots.
Talk to your dentist and find out more about Bruxism so you can approach this problem in a better way. With proper care and regular dental checkups, you can help your child overcome Bruxism successfully.
Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Dental Clinic in Goodyear, AZ. While working for the dental clinic, he’s gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he’s not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.