An estimated 15 to 33 percent of children grind their teeth at some point during their childhood. While children often grow out of this habit before it wreaks havoc on their adult teeth, others do not and need their parents and dentists to help them control their teeth grinding before it leads to severe dental problem development.
Read on to learn more about teeth grinding in children, including its most common causes, hazards, and how to help a child kick the grinding habit.
Teeth Grinding Causes
Many young children grind their primary and/or adult teeth when they first emerge just because they enjoy the sound the grinding makes and then quickly stop grinding when they grow tired of this sound.
However, those that continue to grind their teeth even after they have emerged fully often develop this habit due to anxiety, stress, dehydration, or even nutritional deficiencies. Calcium and magnesium deficiencies are two vitamin deficiencies that could contribute to childhood teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can also be a side effect of some medications or a symptom of bad tooth alignment.
Hazards of Too Much Grinding
If your child grinds their teeth on a regular basis for a long period of time, this grinding habit can lead to oral health problems and other uncomfortable effects.
Common problems that occur when a child first starts grinding their teeth are frequent headaches and/or jaw pain. As a child continues to grind, over time, the surface of teeth can wear away, and teeth can even break, chip, and/or become loose due to the stress of grinding.
While the damage inflicted on teeth by grinding is sometimes repairable, teeth that suffer extreme grinding damage often need to be extracted and replaced with dentures or dental implants.
How to Stop Excessive Grinding
If your child tends to grind their teeth only at night, then create a relaxing bedtime routine for them and ask their dentist if a teeth grinding night guard is right for them. This night guard protects their teeth from the detriment of nighttime grinding.
If your child grinds their teeth during the day, then think back to when you first heard your child grinding their teeth and anything new that was happening in their life at the time. If they started grinding during a stressful time of life, then you may want to take them to a counselor to help them learn to manage their stress without grinding their teeth.
If you suspect the grinding is a side effect of a medication, then ask your physician if another medication can help control your child's health problem that is less prone to causing bruxism. Also, aim to keep your child well-hydrated and provide them plenty of calcium- and magnesium-rich foods.
All parents should monitor their children for teeth grinding and inform their child's dentist of the problem at the first sign of a grinding habit. Their dentist can repair grinding-related tooth damage before it worsens and provide customized tips on how to break the grinding habit.
Contact a pediatric dental care service near you to learn more about teeth grinding.