Category: General Tooth Care Info

Why Do Children Grind Their Teeth?
Why Do Children Grind Their Teeth?

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common concern shared by many parents. Many children who brux during the night while they are sleeping, although bruxism can occur while awake as well. There are a variety of different factors that have been identified as possible reasons for this habit. A child’s bite may be slightly “off”, or an irritating dental condition may be present. Other factors include emotional stress, allergies, or alterations in muscle tone. Some children with significant medical/developmental handicaps may also grind their teeth. In healthy children, bruxism is often self-limiting, meaning that most children will grow out of the habit.

Treatment of bruxism often depends on the severity of the habit, and the amount of wear on the teeth. In older children who have severe wear on their permanent teeth, a mouth guard may be indicated, or an adjustment of their bite. Custom bite splints are not recommended, however, due to the risk of choking, expense, and a rapidly changing dentition which can result in a poor-fitting splint. A child with mild to moderate wear may not require any treatment. In extreme cases, a stainless steel crown (cap) may need to be placed to prevent exposure of the nerve in the tooth, or tooth sensitivity.

Bruxism often does not have long-term consequences on the dentition, unless it continues to occur throughout adolescence and early adulthood.