Children and their recquires some struggle - but you as parent will always do anything you can to give them the perfect life. When it comes to their health, you leave no stone unturned. Yet, some things tend to bother you and make you have more questions than answers. Read on to know more about such a mystery - teeth grinding in children.
What is teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding is also called bruxism, which is a common dental condition. It occurs when you grind, gnash or clench your teeth unconsciously. This could be due to a habit and can affect both adults as well as children. Bruxism is a problem that tends to sound a little more serious than it actually is. While sleep bruxism occurs usually at night - general bruxism can also happen during the day.
Bruxism in children
Bruxism starts generally around the time your little one starts growing milk teeth at around 5-6 months, and then again with the growth of their permanent teeth at 6-7 years of age. This habit persists more at night than it does in the day.
The actual reason why children do this isn’t entirely black and white.
- Most doctors believe that it has it’s roots in something that may be stressing your child or causing them discomfort/anxiety/distress/anger. Examples can be planning a party or losing a loved pet.
- Many children who have problems with sleeping like sleep apnea can have more risk of bruxism.
- Teeth grinding may be due to the new sensation of having teeth. In fact, a third of kids (2 out of 10 children) automatically start grinding their teeth at this time.
- Bruxism could be your child's measure to deal with the pain of teething: especially from 8 to 12 months of age.
- A lot of children who have weak teeth alignment may also have bruxism.
- Others attribute bruxism to some sort of breathing problem or allergy your child could be facing.
- The environment your child is in can also be a cause for bruxism. Hyperactivity or continously changing environments will want them to release all the extra energy.
Effects of teeth grinding
You should try to visit the dentist for regular check ups. This way you will know the exact status of your child’s teeth and gums. Thus, a consultation is important to not only correctly diagnose your doubts but also to know whether your child may have another condition other than bruxism.
Yet, since you may not always know whether you children have bruxism - the signs that you should look out for include:
- Grinding sounds that you may have noticed regularly in the day or night.
- A dull, constant headache originating in the temples
- Teeth that are suddenly more sensitive to heat, cold, or sweetness due to a constant damage
- Soreness on the tongue or inside of cheeks. This is because your child might bite themself while grinding their teeth
- Tired, painful and tight jaw or face muscles that are difficult to move
- Weakened enamel
- Frequent pain in the ears
- Flattened, chipped or worn down teeth that may make a clicking sound
While there’s no severe or drastic effect of teeth grinding, it could damage the teeth if done continuously.
- Your child can potentially loosen or fracture a tooth.
- Lockjaw and other temporomandibular joint dysfunctions (or disorders of your jaw muscles) can also occur along with bruxism.
What you can do
Even though there are no permanent cures, you can easily lessen the signs for more comfort
Parents are usually helpless when their child starts grinding their teeth.
- The noise might be quite distracting and even frustrating to anyone around them.
- The best way would be to wait for your child to outgrow this habit by themselves. On an average, the age of the wearing off of this habit is around 6 to 13 years.
- If you think some kind of anxiety is the issue, you can also help your child seek out healthy forms of relieving stress. This might help your child sleep easier and grind their teeth less. Even talking about the problem will let them know that you understand. Techniques to relax can include a warm bath and listening to soothing music will help you child unwind.
Some parents resort to the usage of a pacifier or teething ring.
- The pacifier or teething ring doesn’t make your environment soundproof but the squeaking of the pacifier is less disturbing than the noise of teeth grinding.
- For older children, it is more advisable to use a mouth gaurd. Your child will continue to grind their teeth but can you avoid the further weakening of the enamel in your child's teeth.
- Avoiding excitable foods and drinks like soft drinks or candy will help them remain calm not only in the day but also dueing the night. Healthy activity, exercise and diet will also help in lessening the signs of bruxism.
- Simple tricks like teaching them to keep their tongue within their teeth or keeping their jaw relaxed will also help to control the situation before you get an official diagnosis.
If you’re certain that the teething is too harmful, then you should immediately consult with your dentist.
- The reason could be due to some dental pain your child is incurring. If there is a problem in the lining up of their teeth, the dentist could fit them back together. Many doctors also advice to use braces or teeth crowns to help lessen the grinding of teeth in your child.
- If sleep is the main problem, you must visit a sleep specialist to determine the proper treatment. By addressing the exact sourec of your child's sleeping issue, the symptoms of bruxism should gradually be minimized.
- Thus, a consultation with the doctor will not only help in the most correct diagnosis, but also to prescribe any medicines that can ease their pain. However, it would be best if your child has reached an age where they can consume these medicines.
Let's keep you and your little one happy as well as healthy!