Did you know that an estimated 30% of children grind their teeth while they sleep at night? The condition is called Bruxism and believe it or not, it’s usually harmless.
Three out of every ten kids grind their teeth at night while they sleep. Is your child one of them? The term for the condition is Bruxism. It’s a relatively harmless condition for most children. However, severe teeth grinding can cause damage to the teeth as well as extreme soreness in a child’s jaws. The term itself is derived from a Greek word: Brychein. The literal translation of brychein is, “violent gnashing of one’s teeth and jaw”.
While a full 30% of children grind their teeth while they sleep (most are under 5 years of age), the parents of those children usually remain ignorant of their child’s condition. If a parent discovers his or her child has Bruxism, it’s usually by accident! The discovery occurs when a parent ‘checks in’ on their child while he or she is sleeping, and that’s when the parent hears that awful teeth-grinding sound.
Medical researchers and scientists have failed to discover exactly why a child will grind his or her teeth when they’re asleep. However, there are several common sense explanations as to the temporary cause of Bruxism. When a child experiences pain in his or her jaw or anywhere nearby (such as an ear ache), the child could be subconsciously trying to dull the pain by flexing his jaws and clenching his teeth. The second potential reason for Bruxism is an increase in stress, whether at home or at school. If you’re child suddenly started clenching his teeth or his jaw and grinding his teeth while sleeping, you should ask if there is anything the child is worried about. Yet another group of people believe Bruxism is just part of the development process and is sometimes necessary, such as when a child’s teeth are improperly aligned.
Most cases of Bruxism are completely harmless. In fact, the average kid will grind his teeth for his entire childhood without his parent’s finding out or any having any negative side effects. However, there are more severe cases of Bruxism that can result in the child experiencing a sore jaw or potentially migraine headaches after a night of teeth grinding. More extreme cases can lead to chipped or cracked teeth (which will then lead to teeth that are sensitive to hot and cold fluids). In the most severe cases, a child’s teeth grinding can lead to temporomandibular joint disease (commonly referred to as TMJ).
If you are concerned about your child’s teeth grinding, you should take him to your family dentist for a routine checkup. By examining his teeth, your dentist can determine how severe the teeth grinding is and whether or not it will cause additional effects on his health. There are some questions that your dentist will ask your child, and they will relate to your child’s stress levels at home and in school. Don’t be alarmed by those questions because they will help your dentist determine whether the Bruxism is caused by stress or by a physical misalignment in his jaw.
Most children grow out of their teeth grinding by the time they reach adolescence. If you don’t feel like waiting that long, there is a simple device your dentist can custom order for your child. It’s called a mouth guard. They are moderately expensive but the device will produce expected results. There is one thing worth mentioning about a mouth guard: if you purchase one, it may take a few weeks before your child is accustomed to wearing it at night.
There are a few home remedies that can be used for alleviating your child’s Bruxism. You can read a bed time story to your child. You can give him a warm bath before bed. You can also listen to soft music for twenty minutes before bed time. All three of those methods can significantly reduce your child’s stress levels which may eliminate his or her teeth grinding, even if only for a night.