What is bruxism?
Bruxism is the term describing the grinding of teeth or the clenching of teeth. It can occur at any age. Many children may have it. Experts report 2 to 3 out of every 10 will grind or clench their jaws, but many will also outgrow it. It often happens during certain sleep phases or when children are under stress. Parents become concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth when they become aware of it. The first sign of bruxism can be the sound created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. Or, a parent may notice the wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition.
Causes of Bruxism
Experts aren’t completely sure why bruxism happens. One theory of the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a variety of situations such as environment, divorce of parents, school related stressors, etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory is related to pressure changes such as those experienced during airplane take-off and landing, the child may grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure. Another theory is related to pressure in the inner ear at night contributing to this condition. In some cases, it is the result of the top and bottom teeth being aligned improperly or it is the response to pain, as from an earache, headache, or teething.
The good news is many children outgrow bruxism and the majority of pediatric bruxism cases do not require any treatment. Typically, the grinding behavior can decrease between the ages 6-9 and children can stop grinding between the ages of 9-12. If you suspect your child is grinding their teeth be sure to discuss this with your dentist or pediatrician. If a child’s grinding is excessive then a mouth guard or other treatment could be indicated. Regularly scheduled dental visits help to head-off bruxism consequences as well as monitor the overall health and development of your child’s teeth and mouth.
When your child is sleeping, you want to hear the sounds of sweet dreams: easy and calm breathing and perhaps the occasional sigh. Give our office a call, 612-781-9270, and we can assess your concerns or questions and help your child to achieve this goal.