Teeth grinding, or bruxism, happens when a child clenches his teeth and grinds them together.
A number of things may cause teeth grinding. For example:
Teeth grinding is most common in children around the ages of 5 and 6, but it can happen at any age. It can occur at any time, especially if a child is feeling stressed. It may become a habit.
The symptoms may include:
Most children grind their teeth only at night. If a child is feeling very stressed, he may grind his teeth during the daytime.
Usually the grinding doesn’t hurt the teeth. The surface of baby teeth can get worn without being painful or causing other problems. Teeth that are very worn down may cause dental problems, such as tooth infections, or it may get hard for your child to chew food properly.
Keep appointments for routine dental checkups. If your child has pain or you see wear on the teeth, get a checkup by a dentist who specializes in children. Most children will stop teeth grinding on their own without the need for special treatments. However, if help is needed, dentists can polish the teeth to make them fit together more comfortably. They can make a special mouth guard to keep your child from wearing away the teeth. The mouth guard is usually worn at night.
It may be a good idea to help a child talk about things that may be causing tension, fear, or anger. You can do this as part of the bedtime routine. For example, when your child is telling you about his day, ask how those events made him feel. While this may or may not help with the child’s teeth grinding, it lets your child know that you care about how he feels. It’s probably best not to draw attention to the grinding itself.