Teeth grinding is a common problem in adults, but it can also affect the youngest members of the household. Recent research verifies that today two out of ten children have acquired this bad habit. But what does it mean to grind your teeth at night?
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is the involuntary act of clenching or rubbing the teeth together that usually occurs during sleep, mainly in children between 6-8 years of age, although in some cases up to 13-14 years of age.
There are 2 types of bruxism:
- Centric bruxism, or clenching of the teeth.
- Eccentric bruxism, or teeth grinding.
All parents want the best for their children, attend to their needs and are attentive to cover the care that the little ones need from them. We would like to have a solution for everything, but when faced with the detection of nocturnal or daytime bruxism, many parents feel helpless or disoriented.
What to do when your child keeps grinding his teeth during sleep or throughout the day?
To understand what bruxism is and how to treat it, you first need to know the root causes of bruxism.
Causes of teeth grinding during sleep
Teeth grinding in children usually stems from these four causes:
- Incorrect alignment of the teeth, when the upper and lower teeth are not properly aligned (change in dentition).
- Teething or earache: your child may be trying to reduce his earache or teething pain by grinding.
- Inadequate nutrition: mainly points to calcium deficiency.
- A medical treatment: sometimes, a treatment can cause irritation or frustration in the child who does not want to follow it and cause bruxism as an escape from stress.
- Mainly stress.
Most of the time, children, like adults who suffer from bruxism, are not aware that they are doing it, it is usually their siblings or parents who notice it. It is very important not to overlook this detection and address the situation as soon as possible to detect its origin and curb the possible consequences.
In some cases, teeth grinding can lead to enamel degradation causing problems such as severe pain, temperature sensitivity and TMJ disease (temporomandibular joint disorders).
If there is wear that causes sensitivity, incisal edge or cusp fillings are recommended.
How can you stop grinding your teeth?
If daytime or nocturnal bruxism is detected, the first thing to do is to visit a specialist. A visit to the dentist will guide the steps to follow. To add to this first step, here are some tips that, adapted to the age of each child, can help minimize it:
- Avoid foods such as chocolate and soft drinks containing caffeine, as they promote stress peaks.
- Playing sports: exercise helps to reduce nervousness in children and thanks to the production of endorphins, it helps them to reduce the feeling of stress and to feel good.
- Use a nighttime mouth guard (mainly soft mouth guards): our dentists can make a customized mouth guard to protect your child’s teeth during nighttime bruxism, although there are studies that do not recommend it so that it does not interfere with the development of the jaw.
- Do not chew anything other than food. Excessive chewing can lead to a habit or become a tic and also cause teeth grinding.
- Avoid chewing gum.
- Teach gentle opening and closing exercises.
As a general rule, child bruxism usually disappears in most cases after the age of 8.
We hope this information is useful to you and we advise you to make an appointment with us in case of any sign of bruxism in your children, so that we can find a solution as soon as possible.