Why Does My Child Grind Her Teeth at Night?
“Why Does My Child Grind Her Teeth at Night?” is a fairly common question with parents. Find out why this happens.
Listening to your child grind her teeth at night while she sleeps can fill you with worry as you wonder at the cause and if it is even safe. Parents with toddlers who exhibit this habit wake up one night to the unpleasant sound of their child’s upper teeth grinding against the lower.
Find out all there is to know about teeth grinding and how you can guard against it.
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, occurs when there is a conscious or unconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth. It is relatively common, especially in kids, and about 20-30% of kids experience it.
What is Teeth Grinding?
While teeth grinding can occur at any time, it is more common at night when your child is asleep.
Bruxism occurs when the child is in a deep or REM sleep and differs in severity among kids; while some don’t go beyond clenching their jaws firmly, others will grind so hard, it produces that grinding sound.
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Symptoms of Teeth Grinding in Children
Usually, teeth grinding is discovered by parents or siblings of the child, since they typically are asleep when it happens.
However, in cases where your child sleeps alone some signs you can look out for include:
– A complaint of jaw pain or sore jaws the next day.
– A dull, but throbbing headache never that never quite goes away.
– A dull pain when chewing.
– One or more cracked teeth.
– Teeth sensitivity
– Reduced jaw mobility
– Loose teeth
– A severe jaw or facial pain
– Aggravation of existing gum inflammation.
What Causes Teeth Grinding – Why Does My Child Grind Her Teeth at Night?
There is no medically known reason why teeth grinding occurs, however, experts are speculating the reason for this could fall under any these two broad categories.
1) Anatomical Reasons
2) Psychological Reasons
Anatomical Reasons for Teeth Grinding in Children
One of the suspected reasons for bruxism in kids is anatomical. Experts speculate kids who have teeth that are misaligned are more likely to experience this problem.
Your child might also develop teeth grinding as a response to teething pain or earache, as a side effect of certain medications, or as a symptom of other underlying medical conditions like pinworm, an endocrine disorder, or cerebral palsy.
Experiencing a nutritional deficiency or being hyperactive can also bring about teeth grinding in children.
Psychological Reasons for Teeth Grinding in Kids
A more common reason for tooth grinding in kids is more psychological.
Experts have found that kids who are under some sort of stress or anxiety turn to this habit as a kind of coping mechanism against the stress they are in.
Stressful situations like moving to a new environment, preparing for an upcoming test, or rivalry between siblings have been known to bring about this situation.
Effects of Teeth Grinding in Toddlers
Most cases of bruxism will bring about no effect other than the discomfort to you the listening.
However, it could also wear down the tooth enamel, cause intense facial pain, and increase temperature sensitivity.
When You Should Worry
While the usual reaction is to worry when your child displays this habit, experts have found that most cases of bruxism really aren’t a cause for concern as most kids outgrow theirs once they change their milk teeth.
Such mild cases of teeth grinding in toddlers can be managed by getting your child to relax before her bedtime or helping through whatever problem might be stressing her out.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) also put forward a few tips for achieving better sleep in your kids:
– Develop a bedtime routine and stick to it.
– Commit to getting her relaxed and prepped for bed at least 20 minutes before her bedtime.
– Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, including chocolate.
– Avoid sugary foods or beverages at least 30 minutes before her bedtime, as this has been known to increase the likelihood of teeth grinding.
– Also, avoid medications known to contain a stimulant.
However, while parental observation and care have been known to be effective in managing bruxism, you might need to seek expert help if this habit causes the following:
– Pain or soreness in the lower jaw.
– It brings about constant headaches.
– Disrupts your child’s sleep; he wakes up from the pain.
– She appears visibly stressed.
Helping Your Child Get Over Teeth Grinding
Only about 30% of bruxism is regarded as severe enough, and in such cases, parents are advised to seek medical help, usually in the form of regular visits to the dentist.
Your dentist will typically monitor your child’s dental health until she outgrows this problem. In very severe cases, a teeth guard might be prescribed. Your doctor could also prescribe therapies or place your child on medications to help with teeth sensitivity.