Signs of Teeth Grinding in Babies and Children

Bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding or clenching, can appear at any age, including in babies and children. This habit can be damaging to the little ones’ teeth, and parents should intervene to eliminate the underlying cause and treat bruxism before it starts causing other problems.

What Is Bruxism?

Teeth grinding or jaw clenching, clinically diagnosed as bruxism, is a repeated behavior and can be observed especially during sleep. Children of all ages can be diagnosed with bruxism, especially since their teeth are just developing and there are many changes happening during their first years of their life. 

Parents often start noticing grinding sounds when their child is sleeping, and they see the movements of the jaw. Visible signs can appear after a while, such as chipped or “filed” enamel where the teeth touch each other when the mouth is closed.

Causes of Bruxism in Children

From the eruption of their baby teeth to the moment when they start being replaced by permanent ones, any minor discomfort felt by your child could trigger bruxism. Physical discomfort that causes bruxism includes these scenarios:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Pain from teething
  • Adjacent pain like an earache

Another common cause for bruxism is a high level of stress the child feels at a certain point in their life, whether the cause is acute or chronic. Problems like difficult adaptation to kindergarten or school, tension in the family, or moving to a new home can all be the underlying cause for bruxism. 

Bruxism is also seen often in children with neurologic issues like cerebral palsy. 

Treatment of Bruxism

The treatment for bruxism will be determined after the underlying cause is identified. Immediate actions can be taken if the child experiences pain or damaged enamel because of the grinding, such as a nightguard they can wear during sleep. 

The dentist can proceed to repair any damage caused by bruxism, with fillings or other restorative dental procedures, but the underlying cause should be treated for the bruxism to stop. If needed, you will be referred to a pediatric psychologist or therapist, or a specialist who can intervene in case of physiological issues. 

If the thing that caused the bruxism is related to stress and a tense environment, parents should intervene and create a soothing, safe atmosphere before bedtime. Depending on the age of the child, parents can discuss the stressful situation and help the child adapt to new situations or accept a difficult one more easily. 

Book an Appointment in Cypress Today

At Cavity Patrol Pediatric Dentistry have treated numerous cases of bruxism with compassionate care for the comfort and well-being of our little patients. We also strive to provide helpful advice for our patient parents and their families. Dr. Julia Servetnik and her team are equipped to treat both the symptoms of bruxism, and to help identify the underlying causes.

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