Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding or jaw clenching, a common condition in kids that most outgrow over time. However, depending on the cause, bruxism in children may require treatment to provide relief and protect the teeth.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching occur for many reasons, including misaligned teeth, teething, stress, and some underlying medical conditions. It can also be alarming for friends and relatives who notice the jaw tension and grinding noise.
Most kids grow out of it when they lose their primary teeth. However, when childhood bruxism extends to the middle school and teen years, it can lead to long-term problems if left untreated.
Dentists can diagnose bruxism in children at their check-ups. The dental team might notice some symptoms and effects of grinding, including worn enamel. However, it’s important to report any headaches, jaw or ear pain, tooth sensitivity, or pain with chewing. In addition, if anybody hears the child grinding, especially at night, report it to your dental team.
The dentist can perform an exam and will take extra time to examine for sensitivity, chips, cracks, or unusually worn enamel. Further, the dental team might take x-rays and check the child’s bite.
Bruxism in children is not uncommon. It’s entirely treatable when diagnosed by a dentist and the underlying cause is identified. Temporary bouts of jaw clenching and teeth grinding mightimprove with hot or cold compresses and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition, like chewing gum.
Typically, the next step in the treatment of bruxism in childhood often involves a custom night guard to ease the damage overnight. It softens the impact of teeth grinding and jaw clenching to reduce pain during the day. Dentists may also prescribe facial massages and stretching exercises to relieve pain and tightness.
If your child’s symptoms stem from stress, it might require additional support from you and other close people. It’s common to feel anxious about new experiences, leading to temporary jaw clenching, but sometimes the issue is deeper and requires additional support from your child’s dentist and other medical professionals.
If you suspect your child is grinding their teeth, call (706) 291-2550 to schedule an appointment with our friendly team of experienced dental professionals.