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Teeth Grinding: Should You Be Worried?

Posted February 1, 2016

If you’re a parent, the sound of your child grinding their teeth when they sleep is probably like nails on a chalkboard. Grinding of the teeth, called bruxism, is actually very common in kids. In fact, three out of ten kids grind or clench their teeth.

Bruxism can be caused by various things:

  1. Misaligned teeth – sometimes if the top and bottom teeth are not aligned properly, it can be a trigger for teeth grinding.
  2. Stress – nervous tension or anger can be another cause.
  3. Medical Conditions – such as cerebral palsy or hyperactivity (ADHD).

Sometimes bruxism does no harm and the child eventually just grows out of it by the time they reach their teenage years. (The witnesses often suffer more because of the sound!) Often times, however, it actually does do harm in the form of headaches, earaches, and jaw problems.

Grinding can also wear down tooth enamel, chip teeth, make teeth more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and in severe cases cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues.

If you’re not sure if your child grinds her teeth or not, just check in on them when they’re sleeping every now and then. See if you hear any grinding sounds. Does your child often complain about face or jaw pain, headaches, etc?

So what should you do if your child grinds his or her teeth?

First, schedule a dental check-up with a pediatric dentist. The dentist will conduct an exam to make the diagnosis. If appropriate, he or she may order a custom mouth guard that your child can wear at night to prevent grinding.  They will discuss any other treatment options that may be available to you.