Teeth grinding, also known by the term bruxism, can be a worrisome habit, but it may not necessarily be a bad one. Teeth grinding is more common in children than in adults, and some scientists believe it has to do with children's growth and development. To find out more about bruxism, read below.
Catching Your Child's Teeth in Motion
You might think that a parent would easily notice a child grinding their teeth while sleeping, but that is not always the case. Adults who grind their teeth can make quite a bit of noise. You might note popping and clicking sounds as they move their jaw back and forth. With children, especially very young children, you might have to observe rather than hear the sounds of teeth grinding. Watch for your child making small and continuous movements as they move their jaw while asleep. Many parents, however, may notice their child grinding their teeth while wide awake. Emerging teeth are usually to blame for this type of awake bruxism as the child attempts to deal with the discomfort of teething.
Other Common Causes of Bruxism
At times, it may not be easy to determine the cause of teeth grinding in children. It's important to do so since it could point to other problems. For example, some children with an earache, which might signal an ear infection, will grind their teeth due to what is known as referred pain. Along with teething and earaches, some of the following things may be behind teeth grinding:
- Teeth alignment issues
- Sinus infections
Psychological Issues and Bruxism
Teeth grinding gained some notoriety in the past when some scientists declared it to be primarily a psychological issue. Once a parent has ruled out any physical causes, they might consider addressing the potential for psychological issues. Just like adults, children can get stressed out when their life undergoes an upset. New siblings, a divorce, a new school, and other changes can create stress in your child, leading to teeth grinding.
Damaging or Not?
Unfortunately, children that spend a lot of time grinding their teeth may end up causing damage to the enamel layer on their teeth. This occurs mostly in children who already have weak or damaged teeth. Speak to your dentist about having your child fitted with a special mouth guard that prevents the top teeth from coming into contact with the bottom teeth. Talk to your family dentist to get more information.