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Teeth Grinding in Children

Primary Causes of Teeth Grinding Generally Observed in Children

Teeth grinding in children is a very common disorder. Clinically, it is known as bruxism. Although children outgrow this disorder, there are a few who don't. The one's who don't, are at a higher risk of permanent damage.
Mukta Gaikwad
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
The clinical term for teeth grinding is bruxism. The word bruxism has been derived from the Greek word, 'brychein', which means to grind teeth. Children suffering from this condition, unknowingly, grind and gnash their teeth while sleeping. They clench their jaw hard during sleep, like we do in a moment of anger. A lot of doctors believe, this happens due to stress, while some suggest this condition is due to improper alignment of teeth. Mostly children under the age of 5 suffer from bruxism. Statistics show, 3 out every 10 children suffer with teeth grinding. This can also be seen in teenagers and adults too.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
There isn't a single cause for teeth grinding. Some believe it to be a psychological condition, while some say it's due to external factors. The reported causes of children grinding teeth are stress, anxiety, poor bite alignment, dislocated jaw, central nervous system disorder, new dental filing, habitual teeth grinding when awake, and activation of reflex chewing activity. It is also seen that digestive ailments lead to bruxism. Children get exposed to anxiety and fear, when they enter school around the age of 3. This problem also begins around the same time. Teeth grinding which usually experienced at night is called nocturnal bruxism.
How Harmful is Teeth Grinding
In most cases, teeth grinding is not that harmful. Most children outgrow this habit. However, its duration will decide the severity of the problem. If your child has been grinding teeth since a long time, then the problem can get out of hands.
Importantly, if your child has a new set of teeth in the offing, then you need to worry a little about the teeth grinding problem. If the problem persists after the new set of teeth are grown, there are a high chances of it creating permanent problems. Headaches, ear aches, damaged enamel, chipped teeth, Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) or Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) and hearing loss. Habitual grinding of teeth can also lead to permanent changes in facial structure.
How to Stop Teeth Grinding
  • Stress and anxiety are the known to be the causes of teeth grinding in children. Strained relationship with your child can be an underlying cause of stress. If you have a shaky relationship with you are child, strengthen it now. In unknowing ways, you may be intimidating your child. Analyze you behavior with your child and reduce the stress as soon as possible. Moreover, if your child is having a problem at school, talk to his/her teachers and resolve the issue as soon as possible.
  • Create a quiet and peaceful environment for your child to sleep in. For a few days sleep with your child. If your child is too excited about something, help him to calm down and relax for bit before falling asleep. A peaceful sleep, will help in reducing the condition.
  • Wait till your child turns 5 year old, to decide, whether the problem, is a serious one or not. Permanent teeth are more sensitive to pain, hence, usually children do grow out of the habit of teeth grinding.
  • If it continues, mention the same to the dentist. Teeth grinding can also occur due to improper alignment of teeth. The dentist may help you in realigning them or will suggest a teeth grinding mouth guard.
Teeth grinding can never be cured by waking up the child. Interrupted sleep can worsen the problem for your child. Helping your child to achieve sound sleep can also stop your child from grinding teeth.