Teeth grinding, or Bruxism, is kind of like a cold. It may, or may not, turn into a troublesome condition. According to the Colgate Oral Care Center, 30% of all children will grind their baby teeth at one time or another. It is more prevalent in children under 5 years old and many times the grinding ceases as the child grows older. However, there are those exceptions that need parental guidance in making sure that the teeth are kept strong and healthy.
Types of Bruxism
While bruxism is not usually categorized by cause, nocturnal bruxism or sleep-related bruxism is specific to children that only grind their teeth during sleep. Other children are known to grind their teeth during the day, as well. The days of looking at bruxism as a mere habit are quickly fading and it is now recognized as a potentially serious condition.
Causes of Bruxism
Children that regularly grind their teeth may have a misalignment of the teeth or they may have a sensitive area that causes them to rub the teeth together as a form of pain relief.
The jaws or “bite” can be uneven, causing an uncomfortable sensation when chewing. A qualified dentist can test your child by measuring the accuracy of the bite and make recommendations.
Stress of an over-abundance of emotion can also result in bruxism. Extreme worry or joy can cause a child to clench or grind the teeth. This is many times noted as a child retires, taking with them the memories of the day of the excitement of tomorrow. Establishing a night time routine, like reading or giving them a warm bath can often help calm their nerves.
When to Worry
If you notice that your child seems to be routinely grinding their teeth and they are over the age of 5, mention the problem to the dentist on their next check up. A dentist will be able to measure the alignment of teeth, any unevenness in a bite or signs of wearing down of the tooth enamel. Steps can then be discussed on eliminating the problem with further dental testing.
Behavioral problems could be another condition, but ruling out any disorders of the teeth and jaw are the first step in curing bruxism.
More likely than not, the problem will cease as your child grows older. Your dentist may suggest a night-guard for upper or lower teeth and to give it a little more time. Guards can be custom-made for comfort and can deliver good results for nocturnal bruxism. Some children have been known to grind their teeth until the age of 10.