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Help! My child grinds his/her teeth at night. What can I do?

August 15, 2017

 

It is estimated that 1 in 4 children will experience night-time tooth grinding and clenching (bruxism) up until age 11 years old. The noise created by tooth grinding can be loud and be startling to parents, siblings, and caregivers. Although the person grinding their teeth may not be aware of the condition itself, they may be aware of the symptoms that can develop that include: jaw tenderness, earaches, headaches, worn teeth, and increased tooth sensitivity.

 

There are many reasons that tooth grinding can occur, that include: allergies, sleep disorders, endocrine disorders, stress, airway restriction, and obstructive sleep apnea. Genetics can also contribute to this disorder, and grinding may tend to run in families.

 

If you think your child has bruxism, talk to your pediatric dentist right away. While bruxism can be a normal finding, it may also create problems. Your dentist can evaluate whether the grinding is causing tooth damage. Another areasof concern in children is obstructive sleep apnea, which is more easily treated early in childhood and can improve overall health as well.

 

If you suspect your child is grinding their teeth, other symptoms to tell your pediatric dentist about include: kicking in sleep, pauses in breathing during the night, bed wetting (after being potty-trained), daytime hyperactivity, and all allergies. Your dentist may evaluate your child’s bruxism, including possible causes, and perform an airway assessment, dental assessment, and review health findings.

 

If your dentist suspects that your child has an airway compromise or other medical condition leading to bruxism, she may also recommend an evaluation with a your pediatrician for systemic conditions and a pediatric otolaryngologist to evaluate for sleep disordered breathing conditions such as sleep apnea.

 

Luckily, most grinding resolves with age (and typically resolves by age 12). If your child is older than 12 years and still suffering from tooth grinding, other recommendations may be made and a mouthguard may be considered as well. Please call us today if you have any concerns about your child. 

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