Though they still lack much self-awareness over their own habits, kids may be hyper-aware of how other people behave. Even adults struggle to notice when they start clenching their own jaw when it comes to teeth grinding. It is especially important for parents to make themselves aware of the signs, causes, and treatment since children are more likely to grind their teeth than adults. With this mind, we at Smile Reef would like to discuss teeth grinding.

Awake & Nocturnal Sleep Bruxism

For jaw clenching and grinding teeth, Bruxism is the medical term. At least once a week, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), 36% of preschoolers grind their teeth. If habits don’t change early up to 17% of all children regularly grind their teeth and one-third will carry the habit into adulthood overall. With stress, anxiety, or nervous habits, most people associate teeth clenching and grinding. This also might apply to children surprisingly. Especially in combination with withdrawn behavior while teeth grinding doesn’t seem to cause poor behavior in school, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) says it does share a relationship.

Symptoms of Teeth Clenching & Grinding

It isn’t easy to spot, as bruxism has quite a few symptoms that can be extremely subtle so it takes a well-trained eye to notice. Some children and adults may realize they’re grinding their teeth or clenching their jaw but keep doing it. Some of the symptoms are listed below.
– Trouble sleeping or fear of going to bed due to associating sleep with pain.
– While the child watches TV, reads, studies, or focuses on a task, subtle mouth movements from clenching.
– Especially in the morning, sore or stiff jaw.
– A stiff jaw causing difficulty chewing.
– During tense situations for the child mouth movements, from clenching.
– From tension, frequent headaches and earaches are produced.
– While sleeping, chattering or grinding sounds.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

With each case is unique, we aren’t sure exactly what causes bruxism. Due to misaligned teeth, some children may clench. To ease pain and release endorphins others may pick up the habit while teething. In response to anxiety or nervousness, like nail-biting or picking, kids may also develop the habit as a response. Some kids may also unconsciously grind their teeth while they sleep.

Bruxism Treatment

There can be long-term effects in teen patients like an increased risk for TMJ, jaw problems, migraines, tooth sensitivity, and worn enamel while in not every case is an emergency. A personalized treatment is required since each case of teeth grinding is different. The treatments include the following:
– To address underlying stress therapy or counseling.
– To protect tooth enamel, proactive and defensive sealants.
– For unconscious sleep grinders, nighttime mouth guards.
– To correct alignment issues, braces are used.

Pediatric Dentistry

Bruxism while awake suggests that the child is unknowingly picking up behaviors to manage daily stress, so talk therapy can help tremendously. Like adults, subconscious teeth clenching can be experienced by kids. In order to evaluate the child’s teeth and explore treatment options, a visit to the dentist is necessary, either way. Call Smile Reef and let us assist you.