If you have a child who grinds their teeth, it’s probably cost you at least a few hours of sleep over the years. As annoying as it can be, all that crunching and squeaking is part of a pretty common habit, especially in kids younger than 11 or so. However, while teeth grinding, or bruxism, is considered normal behavior for children, it can lead to serious oral issues down the road if left untreated. You may wonder how to resolve teeth grinding when it’s something that seems out of your control. Bigman Orthodontics is here to help!
Persistent teeth grinding and clenching can cause the teeth to loosen or even break, contributing to misaligned teeth over time. If your child is currently in braces or recently completed orthodontic treatment, any signs of bruxism should be addressed and corrected right away! Our goal is to help your child have a healthy, fully aligned, and fully functional smile. Keep reading as we explore how to resolve teeth grinding!
What is bruxism? What causes it?
Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding and it describes excessive grinding, clenching, or rubbing of the teeth. These involuntary actions fall outside of normal chewing, swallowing, or speaking movements, and can happen during the day (diurnal) or at night (nocturnal.) It’s believed that around 3 out of every 10 children experience some level of teeth grinding, but this number could be much higher in reality, since bruxism often goes unnoticed by many parents.
Currently, we don’t know exactly what causes bruxism to develop, but there are often both physical and psychological causes linked to it, including:
Sleep issues: This is one of the most common issues associated with teeth grinding. Snoring, sleep talking, and even disorders like sleep apnea can play a role in childhood bruxism. It’s your body’s own ability to open your airway while you sleep and the teeth get in the way as the lower jaw moves forward.
Stress and anxiety: The American Dental Association has stated that stress and anxiety are two big contributors to teeth grinding at night. If your child is naturally anxious or deals with external stressors regularly, it can be helpful to work with them on stress relief methods. Listening to calming music, taking a long walk, or relaxing in a warm bath before bed can reduce the effects of bruxism, and may even be able to eliminate it.
Malocclusions: Teeth grinding is very common in children dealing with bite and alignment issues in the upper or lower jaw. Correcting these malocclusions with orthodontic treatment can help! This is one of the reasons the American Association of Orthodontists recommends a child have their first orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re seven years old. Having an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Bigman examine your child around this time means that potential issues can be caught before they have the chance to become more serious.
Medications and medical conditions: There are certain medications and medical conditions for which bruxism can be a side-effect, particularly neurological conditions.
Genetics: Teeth grinding can be inherited, so if you or someone in your family have suffered from bruxism in the past, your child may be more likely to develop it as well.
Possible side effects of teeth grinding
Research has shown that most children eventually outgrow grinding their teeth. However, it can still cause some difficulties for them while it continues, including:
Damaged tooth enamel: If bruxism is ignored or untreated over a long period, the grinding action can wear down the enamel of your child’s teeth. This may eventually lead to the exposure of the much softer dentine, causing a whole new set of problems.
Interrupted sleep: Many people aren’t aware that bruxism is classified as a sleep disorder, but it certainly makes sense once you know! A child who grinds their teeth will often have their most restful sleep disrupted, and waking up multiple times at night can be hard on the body, brain, and emotions, too.
Behavioral issues: This goes hand in hand with sleep issues since a lack of deep sleep in children can lead to an array of behavioral problems. Clinical studies have demonstrated a possible link between bruxism and anxiety, stress, and depression in those who suffer from it.
Jaw pain, headaches, and other body aches: Children who have experienced prolonged teeth grinding may suffer headaches, earaches, jaw pain, and even damaged teeth as a result. These can take a toll on their overall quality of life if left untreated.
Is there any way to prevent or treat bruxism?
If you have a child who is consistently grinding their teeth, your first step should be to contact our San Ramon office. Dr. Bigman will be able to conduct a thorough examination of your child’s teeth to determine any damage that may be a result of teeth grinding. If no damage is present, further treatment is unlikely to be recommended, understanding that most children do outgrow bruxism naturally.
If our team detects any noticeable problems related to teeth grinding, we’ll be able to provide you with several options for helping to reduce the amount of grinding. This usually involves treating any obvious underlying causes and being proactive with certain forms of treatment, such as prescribing a special nightguard made specifically for your child’s teeth. This will help treat any damage already present as well as preventing any further damage.
Bigman Orthodontics keep your child’s smile looking and feeling great
Is your child struggling to get a good night’s sleep due to bruxism? Are you? Bigman Orthodontics can help you rest better and smile brighter! We’ve been providing top-quality orthodontic care for San Ramon and the surrounding communities for years and have helped over 10,000 people achieve the smile of their dreams. Our goal is to give our patients a rewarding orthodontic experience from the first appointment to the last.
Request an appointment today and start your journey of resolving teeth grinding with Bigman Orthodontics. Our team is ready to help you!