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A Parent's Guide To Bruxism In Children

Bruxism is better known as teeth grinding. It is a condition that can affect children as well as adults, and it leads to dental concerns if not addressed.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

There are a few reasons why a child may begin to grind their teeth. Although stress is the main reason adults suffer from bruxism, this is not always the case with children.

1. Teething

Teething infants and children losing their baby teeth may grind in their sleep due to the natural discomfort from teething. Providing a safe-to-sleep with teething toy and using soothing teething gels can help reduce the urge to grind during this period. 

2. Dehydration

The stress on the body from dehydration, especially if there is dehydration in conjunction with caffeine consumption, can cause teeth grinding once the child falls asleep. Fortunately, this type of bruxism is easy to remedy by simply cutting back on caffeine and monitoring your child's water consumption. 

3. Health Conditions

Some health conditions or medications can increase the likelihood that your child will grind their teeth. Bruxism can be a partner condition with health conditions like autism and cerebral palsy. If your child has a condition or is on medication, check with their dentist to see if it could affect their dental health.

Signs of Bruxism In Children

Signs of grinding are similar in adults and children, but children may not have the language skills yet to point out their discomfort or the cause. For this reason, it's important that parents are aware of some warning signs.

1. Headache Complaints

Small children aren't usually prone to headaches, so if your little one starts complaining of head pain then it's important to get to the cause. Although there are a range of things that can cause headaches, have your dentist check for other signs of grinding if the headaches are frequent or won't go away easily.

2. Jaw Pain

Your child may seem irritable or may be unwilling to eat or drink due to pain in their jaw. Grinding puts stress on more than just the teeth, the mandible joint in the jaw will also become tired and irritated from night time grinding. The jaw may seem tender and your child may shy away from touching their face or they may try to rub it in order to soothe the discomfort. 

3. Tooth Damage

Grinding makes teeth more likely to chip. Molars in particular can also become flattened over time from excessive grinding. If you watch your child sleep when they are grinding it will likely be loud enough to hear, so it is no surprise that such a loud habit will cause damage to the teeth.

Contact a pediatric dentist if you have concerns about your child and bruxism.