Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding, is a condition characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth. This phenomenon can occur both consciously and unconsciously, affecting children primarily.
Research shows that approximately 20% to 30% of children grind their teeth, typically during their sleep cycle. As a parent, you may have observed that your child grinds their teeth at night. But it’s also possible for them to do it during the day when they feel anxious.
The good news is that if your child is younger, they may stop grinding their teeth around the time they lose their baby teeth.
Do you know if your child has bruxism? Worry not! This article will discuss how to recognize and manage bruxism in children.
Signs of Bruxism in Children
Be vigilant for signs of bruxism in children, as early detection can help prevent long-term dental problems.
The following are some signs that your child may be grinding their teeth:
Grinding Noises: Grinding noises are the most common sign of bruxism. See medical attention if you hear your child grinding their teeth while sleeping.
Jaw Pain: If your child complains of jaw pain, especially after waking up, it could be a sign of teeth grinding.
Headaches: Teeth grinding can also cause headaches, especially in the morning.
Tooth Sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity is also a common sign of bruxism. The constant grinding can wear down the enamel of the teeth, leading to sensitivity.
Facial Pain: Your child may complain of pain in their ears, cheeks, jaw, or neck. This can happen both while awake and asleep.
If you discover your child struggles with bruxism, there are ways they can cope. Here are some tips on how to manage bruxism in children:
1. Relaxation Techniques
Teaching your child how to relax by taking deep breaths can help manage bruxism. When stressed, our body responds by grinding our teeth. So, by teaching your child how to manage their stress levels, they can reduce how often they grind their teeth.
Another excellent way for a child to learn relaxation techniques is through activities that help them to stay calm and focused. For example, if they’re old enough, yoga, meditation, and visualization may benefit them.
2. Track Your Child’s Behavior
Monitoring your child’s behavior is the first step in managing bruxism. If you notice any signs of teeth grinding, such as jaw pain, make an appointment with a dentist.
Other signs to look out for are ongoing tooth sensitivity and headaches. Consult the list at the beginning of this article to determine whether you should visit the dentist.
3. Treat Underlying Conditions
Aside from stress and anxiety, medical conditions can cause bruxism. Sleep apnea, cerebral palsy, and tonsillitis are just a few medical conditions that can increase the risk of teeth grinding.
If your child struggles with any of these conditions, it is vital to speak to their doctor. You can discuss preventive measures, such as wearing a night guard, to help reduce the risk of bruxism. In some cases, treating the underlying condition can also reduce the risk of bruxism.
4. Have Them Wear a Night Guard
Another way to combat bruxism is by using an occlusal guard. An occlusal guard, also known as a night guard, can protect your child’s teeth from damage at night.
A mouth night guard can relieve your child from the pain and discomfort caused by teeth grinding. It works by covering the teeth and protecting them from any further grinding or clenching. It also creates a barrier between the teeth and the jaw and reduces the tension in the jaw muscles.
With a mouth night guard, you can rest easy knowing the guard will protect your child’s teeth while they sleep.
5. Sleep Schedule
Getting enough rest is one of the most critical factors for a child’s health and well-being. But unfortunately, many parents struggle to ensure their child gets adequate sleep. This is particularly true for children who suffer from bruxism.
Ensuring your child gets enough rest is one of the most effective ways to manage bruxism. So it’s essential to establish a regular bedtime routine to ensure they stay well-rested.
Children often grind their teeth, which can cause long-term dental problems if left untreated. And unfortunately, bruxism can be a difficult condition to spot in children since they often grind their teeth while they sleep.
As a parent, you should watch for signs of teeth grinding. If you notice symptoms such as disturbed sleep, jaw or facial pain, or tooth wear, seek medical help immediately. Doing so will prevent long-term damage to their teeth.
Furthermore, your doctor may recommend a night guard to prevent grinding. They may also refer your child to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment. It is vital to take action now to protect your child’s teeth from the damage caused by bruxism.