Why Kids Grind Their Teeth and What are Risks Associated with Teeth Grinding?

Does your child grind his teeth at night? Have you noticed your child clenching his teeth while sleeping? If yes, you might be concerned about this and wish that your child gets rid of this habit.

In this dental guide, we will share all the helpful information you need to know about teeth grinding in children and share a few tips on how you can help your kids in getting rid of this habit.

What is Bruxism?

The act of repetitive grinding or clenching your teeth is known as bruxism. If your kids grind their teeth consciously when awake, the habit is known as awake bruxism; however, if they grind their teeth unconsciously while sleeping, it is known as sleep bruxism.

Teeth grinding or clenching can be an involuntary response to stress and anxiety. It is pretty common for adults and kids to engage in teeth grinding without fully knowing what they are doing.

Bruxism is much more common in childhood, and it starts as soon as the teeth grow in. Reports suggest that nearly 20% to 30% of the kids grind their teeth while sleeping. However, it is quite common to observe kids grinding their teeth during the day.

Why do Kids Grind their Teeth?

Bruxism in children may occur due to several reasons. Mostly this problem occurs due to a combination of psychological factors, family history, and environmental triggers. Bruxism runs in families even though it is not yet clear that this is due to genetics or other factors such as similar upbringing. Let’s discuss some of the reasons that may lead to bruxism in children and adults.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are closely related to bruxism. Studies on toddlers found that kids who faced stressful events are more likely to experience sleep bruxism. However, more research is needed to see whether stress causes bruxism or bruxism leads to stress.

Similarly, bruxism can occur in school-age children due to stress-related to homework, chores, and getting good grades. It is pretty common for children to engage in bruxism who are worried about doing well in school. A teeth grinding mouthguard can help in dealing with bruxism caused by stress and anxiety.

Mental Health Problems

Mental health issues often lead to bruxism. Apart from stress and anxiety, one of the significant causes of bruxism among children is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or migraines. Furthermore, bruxism is also strongly linked with sleep disturbances such as snoring, parasomnias, and other sleep-related disorders.

Dental Health Problems

Bruxism is much more common in kids who have misaligned teeth and those who wear fixed orthodontic devices. Furthermore, bruxism is more common among people who breathe primarily through their mouths. However, additional research is needed to confirm if other dental health issues lead to bruxism.

Secondhand smoke

Another risk factor for bruxism in childhood is secondhand smoke. Studies suggest that even slight exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of bruxism among kids.

What are The Risks of Bruxism?

Generally, bruxism might not be considered dangerous; however, constant grinding or clenching of teeth may lead to jaw pain and damage your teeth over time. That’s why it is essential to pay significant importance to get rid of this problem.

Bruxism can lead to an increased risk of developing:

  • Eating disorders
  • Fractured teeth, receding gums, and other dental health complications
  • Teeth and Jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Mental health problems
  • Sleep problems

Furthermore, the sounds produced by teeth grinding or clenching can also lead to sleep disruptions for your child and other family members sleeping nearby. A custom nightguard is an ideal solution for dealing with night bruxism.

Diagnosing Bruxism – Signs Which Indicate That Your Kid Might have Bruxism

The following symptoms will help you know that your child is experiencing bruxism and is habitual of grinding his teeth at night.

Tooth Damage

Any damage to your teeth can indicate that your child has bruxism. You can check for fractures, wearing down of teeth or receding gums. If any of these symptoms exist, consult a professional dentist as you might have bruxism.

Sensitive Teeth

If your child is sensitive to hot or cold drinks, he might be habitual of grinding his teeth. Studies suggest that kids who grind their teeth are more sensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks.

Jaw Pain

Consistent pressure from teeth grinding or clenching may lead to jaw pain or headaches. You may experience an increased size of your child’s jaw muscles.

Grinding Sounds

If you sleep nearby your child, you may experience grinding noises produced by teeth grinding. These sounds clearly indicate that your kid is habitual of clenching his teeth at night. You can also choose a baby monitor to monitor your child’s habits during sleep. This is an excellent way of diagnosing bruxism in kids without disrupting their sleep.

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