During sleep, your child may do many things that he or she may be unaware of doing. Some children grind their teeth in sleep. This is a phenomenon known as sleep bruxism.
Per the latest statistics, two to three out of every 10 grind their teeth in sleep. This is not a good condition to have as it contributes to different short and long-term negative effects such as wearing down of tooth enamel.
If you ever heard your child grind their teeth in sleep, you need to address this issue. In this guide, you will learn why children grind their teeth in sleep and how it can be prevented or managed.
Signs of Teeth Grinding in Children
Have you ever heard your child grind their teeth in sleep? If you have, you may worry about your child and question your child about his or her teeth grinding. Your child may not even know about this as it’s common for children who grind their teeth to not be aware of it.
Your child may be oblivious to this, but you should be on the lookout for the signs of teeth grinding. The signs of this condition vary, but among the most common signs are chipped teeth and the grinding noises made during sleep.
Other signs of bruxism include jaw pain, especially while chewing food, complaints of a sore jaw after waking up, and worn-down enamel. If you observe any of these signs in your child, you need to take your child to a dentist.
Why Do Children Grind Their Teeth in Sleep
Researchers aren’t always sure why children grind their teeth during sleep, but researchers have found some common factors that can trigger it. Stress, psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression, and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea can trigger teeth grinding.
Hyperactivity is also believed to be a trigger for teeth grinding in sleep. Pain is another source. If your child is grinding his or her teeth during sleep, it may be a response to pain that arises from an earache or teething. While teeth grinding in response to pain may be temporary, you should still take action to address it.
Helping Children Who Grind Their Teeth
If your child grinds their teeth, there are certain actions you can take to help your child stop grinding their teeth. Before your child goes to sleep, you should help your child distress by reading your child a book or having your child take a warm bath or shower.
If you believe that stress or anxiety is causing your child to grind his or her teeth, you should take the time to talk to your child. For example, if your child is worrying about the family moving to a new city, it may be triggering the teeth grinding. Discuss with your child any concerns or fears he or she may have.
Some children who grind their teeth do so because they have poor sleep hygiene. If your child’s routines affect the ability to sleep, you should consider improving your child’s sleep hygiene.
There are several actions you can take to help improve your child’s sleep hygiene and possibly to an end to the teeth grinding. One of the things you can take is to keep a regular sleep schedule for your child. This will help your child sleep for the recommended 7-9 hours.
If your child eats or drinks foods that contain caffeine before going to bed, you need to put an end to this habit as these foods can increase the risk of teeth grinding. Also, make sure if your child is taking a medication such as cough medicines, decongestants, or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (prescribed to treat depression) that it isn’t triggering the grinding of teeth.
Treating Teeth Grinding in Children
If none of the previous strategies work to stop your child’s teeth grinding, consider taking your child to a dentist. A dentist can conduct a dental checkup to determine if your child has bruxism.
During the dental checkup, the dentist will look for the symptoms of bruxism. If your child suffers from bruxism, the dentist will make a diagnosis and recommend treatment.
One of the recommendations a dentist can make to help combat teeth grinding is the use of a mouthguard or nightguard. The dentist can make a custom mouthguard for your child that will protect the teeth from damage. If you have a dental plan, it may cover the cost of the mouthguard.
If the teeth grinding is severe, the dentist may recommend dental correction. This is a procedure that reshapes the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
You must take your child to see a dentist if he or she grinds their teeth as the dentist can treat the condition to prevent significant complications such as painful temporomandibular joint disorders.
Take Action to Manage Your Child’s Bruxism
Children grind their teeth in sleep and there is a chance your child may not even be aware of it. Teeth grinding in sleep causes several symptoms so it is important to be on the lookout for the symptoms.
You want to take action before the effects of teeth grinding start to appear. Make an appointment to see a dentist. A dentist can conduct a comprehensive dental checkup to examine for bruxism symptoms and treat the condition.
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