Teeth Grinding Symptoms and Treatments

Does your child occasionally grind his/her teeth? This is a very common problem seen in our office and can have an affect on your child’s teeth.

Teeth Grinding, a.k.a. Bruxism

The medical term for grinding/clenching your teeth is Bruxism. Bruxism is common in children and most of the time does not require any specific intervention or treatment. It’s important to understand that child can grind their teeth off and on throughout childhood. So although your child’s teeth sound like “nails on the chalkboard” today, the nasty sound may disappear very soon.

Tooth grinding can be mild or severe in nature leading to headaches, tooth discomfort, tooth wear, worn tooth enamel possibly exposing the inner layers of the tooth, muscle soreness, and jaw pain. Symptoms of tooth grinding can mimic symptoms of a tooth infection. If your child experiences any of these symptoms, it is very important to mention these symptoms to your pediatric dentist so that a proper diagnosis can be made.

There can be many reasons why children grind their teeth including stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, abnormal alignment of the teeth (malocclusion), response to pain from teething or an earache, or growth/development of the jaws.

Will my child need a mouthguard?

Mouthguard for Teeth Grinding

Mouthguard for Teeth Grinding

Although dentists frequently make a mouthguard for adults to protect the permanent teeth from extensive wear, if your child still has baby teeth, we typically do not recommend a mouthguard simply for grinding. This is different than if your child plays a contact sport and needs a sports mouthguard. We highly recommend a sports guard to protect children from damaging their teeth during any contact sports.

Grinding can also be improved many times through alignment of your child’s teeth through orthodontics. Your pediatric dentist will recommend the appropriate time to take your child for braces.

If your child displays any of the above symptoms, or you have any questions about your child’s grinding habit, remember to ask your pediatric dentist at your next check-up appointment.

(CC Photo Credit: geekstinkbreath on Flickr)

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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