Teeth Grinding in Children

Teeth Grinding in Children
Posted on 04/12/2015
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Why Teeth Grinding Occurs and the Long Term Effects

Many parents come into my office with concerns that their child/children are grinding their teeth either at night or during the day. Grinding or bruxism occurs in children and in adult mostly at night during sleep, so no one really knows they are doing it unless someone hears them.  Adults will often feel pain once they wake up because grinding or clenching causes the muscles of the face to tighten up and become sore.  Children often will not feel the pain because their bone is soft and absorbs the forces and pressures of grinding. 

Patients ask why do children grind teeth if they are not stressed?  Most children grind for no obvious reason, but outgrow it and stop between ages of 9-12.  Some children will grind if their airway is compromised.  So if a child suffers from asthma or allergies or even a cold/congestion.  This causes the child to thrust their jaw forward and grind their front teeth together in order to open up the airway while sleeping so their body receives more oxygen.  Also, children who have syndromes are more likely to grind their teeth. 

The effects of grinding the teeth are: loss of enamel, increased sensitivity, shortening of teeth, and fracturing of teeth.  There is no treatment for children since their teeth often are exfoliating and adult teeth erupting.  Thus, dentists do not prepare night guards for kids as they would for adults.  You can ask your pediatric dentist to place sealants on the teeth, which are coating for the chewing surfaces of teeth, so that the kids grind on sealants rather than the enamel.