Children’s teeth grinding, medically known as bruxism, is a habit many toddlers pick up, especially during sleep. The sound of your little one grinding their teeth can be concerning, and you might be left wondering if this is normal.
You’re not alone in this worry, and more importantly, we’re here to assure you that teeth grinding is fairly common amongst toddlers. Just as they are learning to navigate the world around them, they are also discovering how their bodies work – and that includes their mouth and teeth.
Although it’s a common occurrence, it’s still important to keep a watchful eye. By understanding what teeth grinding is, its causes, and its effects, you can ensure your child maintains a healthy smile.
At Granite Belt Dental, we have a team of skilled family dentists and therapists who prioritise your comfort and ease during each visit. Whether you’re in search of a family dental clinic with experience in treating gum disease in Warwick, Inglewood, or Stanthorpe, contact us directly or schedule an appointment online.
Why Do Kids Grind Their Teeth?
Kids grind their teeth for a variety of reasons. Just as each child is unique, the reasons for their teeth grinding are also diverse and might include stress, teething, misaligned teeth, growth and development, and more. Let’s look at each in more detail.
Just like adults, children grind their teeth due to stress or anxiety. This might surprise you, but children do experience stress. They may not have work deadlines or bills to pay, but changes in their routine, conflicts in school, or even a new sibling can stir up feelings of anxiety.
The discomfort of new teeth poking through the gums can lead some children to grind their teeth. Teething can be an uncomfortable time, and grinding might provide some relief.
If your child’s teeth aren’t properly aligned, they might grind them unconsciously. This could be a simple habit, or their body’s way of trying to adjust to the misalignment.
Growth and development
During certain stages of growth and development, children may grind their teeth without any identifiable cause. This grinding often stops once they reach a new developmental stage.
Remember, while these reasons can explain why your child might be grinding their teeth, it’s best to seek professional advice if you’re concerned.
Recognising the Signs: Is Your Child Grinding Their Teeth?
Identifying whether your child is grinding their teeth can often be a bit tricky. While some children make a noticeable grinding noise, others are silent grinders. To put your mind at ease, here are some common signs and symptoms that may indicate your child is grinding their teeth:
- Grinding noises while your child sleeps: This is of course the most apparent sign of teeth grinding. The sound can range from a quiet scraping to a louder, more noticeable grind.
- Complaints of a sore jaw or facial pain: If your child frequently wakes up complaining about a sore jaw, cheek pain, or headache, it could be a result of teeth grinding during sleep.
- Worn-down teeth: Over time, constant grinding can wear down your child’s teeth. You might notice their teeth looking shorter or the enamel wearing away, revealing the darker dentine beneath.
- Changes in sleep patterns or restlessness during sleep: Teeth grinding can interrupt sleep and lead to daytime fatigue.
- Biting their tongue or cheek in their sleep: if your child complains of biting their tongue or the inside of their cheek whil sleeping, this is a sign that they are grinding their teeth. Dentists can check for sores in the mouth to identify this symptom.
- Increased tooth sensitivity: If your child is suddenly complaining about hot, cold, or sweet foods causing discomfort, it may be due to the enamel wearing away from grinding.
The Effects of Children’s Teeth Grinding
While occasional teeth grinding may not cause significant problems, constant grinding can lead to several issues if left unchecked:
Damage to the teeth
Persistent grinding can wear down tooth enamel, chip teeth, and increase sensitivity. Over time, it could even affect the structure and alignment of your child’s permanent teeth.
Jaw pain and TMJ disorders
Bruxism can lead to jaw discomfort and even contribute to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which can cause pain and difficulties in jaw movement.
The constant grinding can interrupt a good night’s sleep, leading to sleep issues and fatigue.
Headaches and earaches
Regular grinding can cause your child to wake up with a headache or an earache.
Understanding these effects can be a bit daunting, but remember that with early detection, these problems are entirely preventable.
How to Diagnose Children’s Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
A typical diagnosis of bruxism might include:
- Discussing your child’s medical history and symptoms: Your dentist will start by asking about your child’s symptoms, sleep habits, and any potential stressors that could be contributing to the grinding.
- Physical examination: The dentist will examine your child’s teeth and jaw for signs of grinding, like tooth wear, sores on the tongue or mouth, or jaw tenderness.
- X-rays (if needed): In some cases, an X-ray might be necessary to check the tooth alignment and identify any underlying dental issues.
Armed with this information, your dental team will be able to recommend a treatment plan for your child.
Effective Treatments for Children’s Teeth Grinding
While teeth grinding can feel daunting, there are several effective treatments available to manage the issue and prevent further dental damage:
- Mouth guards or dental splints: These are custom-made protective devices that fit over your child’s teeth and help reduce grinding during sleep.
- Behavioural therapies: Techniques such as habit reversal and learning programs can help children become aware of their grinding and teach them how to relax their jaw muscles.
- Stress management techniques: If stress or anxiety is a contributing factor, relaxation exercises, counselling, or other stress management techniques may be beneficial.
- Addressing underlying dental issues: If misaligned teeth are causing your child’s grinding, dental procedures can help correct the issue.
Contact Granite Belt Dental Today
Have you noticed some signs of teeth grinding in your child? Wondering what the next step is? This is where the friendly team at Granite Belt Dental steps in.
If you’re in the Granite Belt area, our experienced dentists can perform a thorough examination of your child’s mouth, teeth, and jaw to diagnose teeth grinding. To experience the difference that Granite Belt Dental can make for your child’s oral health, contact us or book an appointment online today.