Nighttime Teeth-Grinding (Bruxism) in Children
Occasional teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, occurs normally in both adults and children. When, however, this happens regularly, it can cause teeth damage. The most common cause is probably mal-alignment of the teeth, but it can also be caused by anxiety and stress, as well as traumatic brain injury. Some medications have bruxism as a side effect. Because it occurs most often during sleep, it is not noticed unless one sleeps near the patient and is disturbed by the noise. Commonly, one is alerted by the symptoms, the most common being a dull, constant headache, or a sore jaw, notably found in the morning. Sensitivity to hot or cold foods may also be a telltale sign
Left untreated, teeth grinding can lead to wearing down and loosening of teeth, leading to fracturing or even loss of teeth. In severe cases, it can lead to temperomandibular joint damage, and may require extensive reparative work to restore normal chewing function.
Nightly Mouth Guard
Your dentist can diagnose the condition by examining the wear on the teeth in the mouth. Often, if caught early, a simply nightly mouth guard can protect against this disorder, and most children grow out of this disorder by puberty.
Other steps that can be taken to treat the disorder would be to avoid chewing gum chronically, or chewing on any objects (such as pencils). Constant chewing can cause the jaw muscles to get stiff from the constant clenching action and can make the grinding worse. Adults are advised to avoid alcoholic or caffeine-containing beverages around bedtime. If the condition starts suddenly, it may be a side effect of a new medication being used, so always tell your dentist what new medications might have been started.
In chronic and severe cases, you might be advised to attend stress-management classes, and the dentist may recommend dental therapy to re-align the tooth surfaces. Children can easily be taught to consciously put their tongue between their teeth during daylight hours to reduce the clenching of their jaw muscles. Muscle relaxant medications might also be prescribed as well as other exercise programs designed to help relax the jaw muscles.
Please contact Dr. Boling – Lonestar Smiles for Kids at 817-598-0835 if you have any questions.