why does my child grind her teeth while sleeping

When you look in on your sleeping child, you want to hear the sounds of sweet dreams: easy breathing and perhaps an occasional sigh. But some parents hear the harsher sounds of gnashing and grinding teeth, called
bruxism, which is common in kids. Bruxism is the medical term for the grinding of teeth or the clenching of jaws. Many kids have it (2 to 3 out of every 10 will grind or clench, experts say), but most outgrow it. Bruxism often happens during deep sleep phases or when kids are under stress. Experts aren't always sure why bruxism happens. In some cases, kids may grind because the top and bottom teeth aren't aligned properly. Others do it as a response to pain, such as from an earache or. Kids might grind their teeth as a way to ease the pain, just as they might rub a sore muscle. Many kids outgrow these fairly common causes for grinding. usually nervous tension or anger is another cause. For instance, a child might worry about a test at school or a change in routine (a new sibling or a new teacher). Even arguing with parents and siblings can cause enough stress to prompt teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Some kids who are hyperactive also have bruxism. And sometimes kids with other medical conditions (such as ) or who take certain medicines can develop bruxism. Many cases of bruxism go undetected with no ill effects, while others cause headaches or earaches.


Usually, though, it's more bothersome to other family members because of the grinding sound. In some cases, nighttime grinding and clenching can wear down tooth enamel, chip teeth, increase temperature sensitivity, and cause severe facial pain and jaw problems, such as. Most kids who grind, however, don't have TMJ problems unless their grinding and clenching happen a lot. Lots of kids who grind their teeth aren't even aware of it, so it's often siblings or parents who identify the problem. If you think your child is grinding his or her teeth, visit the , who will examine the teeth for chipped enamel and unusual wear and tear, and spray air and water on the teeth to check for unusual sensitivity. If damage is found, the dentist may ask your child a few questions, such as: How do you feel before bed? Are you worried about anything at home or school? Are you angry with someone? What do you do before bed? The exam will help the dentist see whether the cause is anatomical (misaligned teeth) or psychological (stress), and come up with an effective treatment plan. Most kids outgrow bruxism, but a combination of parental observation and dental visits can help keep the problem in check until they do. In cases where the grinding and clenching make a child's face and jaw sore or damage the teeth, dentists may prescribe a special night guard.


Molded to a child's teeth, the night guard is similar to the protective mouthpieces worn by athletes. Though a mouthpiece can take some getting used to, positive results happen quickly. Whether the cause is physical or psychological, kids might be able to control bruxism by relaxing before bedtime for example, by taking a warm bath or shower, listening to a few minutes of soothing music, or reading a book. For bruxism that's caused by stress, ask about what's upsetting your child and find a way to help. For example, a kid who is worried about being away from home for a first camping trip might need reassurance that mom or dad will be nearby if needed. If the issue is more complicated, such as moving to a new town, discuss your child's concerns and try to ease any fears. If you're concerned, talk to your doctor. In rare cases, basic stress relievers aren't enough to stop bruxism. If your child has trouble sleeping or is acting differently than usual, your dentist or doctor may suggest further evaluation. This can help find the cause of the stress and a proper course of treatment. How Long Does Bruxism Last? Most kids stop grinding when they lose their baby teeth. However, a few kids do continue to grind into adolescence. And if the bruxism is caused by stress, it will continue until the stress eases. Because some bruxism is a child's natural reaction to growth and development, most cases can't be prevented.


Stress-induced bruxism can be avoided, though. So talk with kids regularly about their feelings and help them deal with stress. Taking kids for routine dental visits can help find and treat bruxism. Most people probably grind and clench their from time to time. Occasional grinding, medically called, does not usually cause harm, but when grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other complications can arise. Why Do People Grind Their Teeth? Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and, it often occurs during and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or. It can also be caused by a such as. How Do I Find Out if I Grind My Teeth? Because grinding often occurs during, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant or sore jaw when you wake up is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night. If you suspect you may be, talk to your dentist. He or she can examine your and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and excessive wear on your teeth. Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful? In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, partial dentures, and even complete may be needed.


Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, cause or worsen, and even change the appearance of your face. What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth? Your dentist can fit you with a to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep. If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered. If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit. Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain, such as colas, and coffee. Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption. Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth. Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax. Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.

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