My child grinds his/her teeth at night!

Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth called bruxism. Often, the first indication of a problem is the noise created by the child grinding their teeth during sleep or the parent noticing excessive wear – and the teeth getting shorter!

Bruxism is not uncommon during the ages when teeth are erupting. The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment and most children outgrow it on their own. The grinding decreases between ages 6 to 9 years and children tend to stop grinding by age 12.

We don’t know exactly why grinding or bruxism occurs, but there are theories. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school, etc. can influence a child to grind his/her teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes in the atmosphere, similar to in an airplane during take-off and landing, the child may move his/her jaw to relieve this pressure and inadvertently grind his/her teeth. It may also occur coincidentally with a growth spurt – the child’s jaw grows and the teeth rub together during that time.

If you suspect bruxism may be affecting your child, mention it to the front office when you make the appointment or to the doctor during your child’s dental exam. If your child also snores, bruxism can be a sign of sleep apnea, so we will want to discuss this with you.


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