For the young and old, teeth grinding is a serious concern. Thankfully there are methods to stopping teeth grinding before it gets too serious. For the young, however, this can be harder to do than for an adult. Children have less of a conscious attitude toward health than an adult, who understands the cause and effect of such bad habits. For children, it will take the help of their parent to stop teeth grinding before it becomes a serious health concern.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is when the jaw muscles tighten and clench, pushing the teeth together in a way that wears down the enamel of the tooth. The more this happens, the flatter the tooth becomes, and the closer the nerve endings are to being exposed, making the teeth more sensitive.
Almost all cases of teeth grinding happen at night, when the person is asleep, so it can be a hard habit to detect. With children, this is especially hard as they don’t realize why their head might hurt, or why their jaw is sore in the morning, which are two main symptoms of teeth grinding.
The best way one will know if their child is grinding their teeth is by the sound. Much like nails on a chalkboard, the sound of teeth grinding can be excruciating. If you hear a kind of grinding sound coming from your child’s room, you can suspect that they’re grinding their teeth. Often children grind their teeth because the top and bottom teeth are misaligned. They also may grind in response to an earache or teething.
Before heading straight to the dentist, there are ways to help you child relax their jaws and prevent them from teeth grinding without seeking medical attention.
Drinking More Water
Often teeth grinding in children is caused by dehydration. If you have discovered your child grinds their teeth, make sure to have them drink plenty of liquids throughout the day, the most important liquid being water.
For both adults and children, stress is a big cause of teeth grinding. For adults, stress can be caused by work or relationship troubles, while for children, it can be more about being scared at night, or having nightmares. To help prevent this, make sure your child isn’t eating too much bad food at night. Junk food with high amounts of sugar and sodium can lead to bad dreams. As well, make them feel comfortable by reading them a book or telling them a story before going to bed. This will help them relax and feel safe throughout the night.
Stress may also be caused by an illness such as an earache. Talking to your child’s pediatrician about ways to reduce pain in the ear and ease your child is recommended.
When muscles aren’t relaxed, they tend to tighten and clench at night. So it’s important to make sure your child’s muscles are loose, especially the jaw. A good way to loosen all muscles is by doing simple stretches before bed. For the jaw, a rag soaked in warm water and placed along the jawline and against the cheeks will help it become relaxed.
Aligning the Teeth
If the teeth-grinding is due to misaligned teeth, it could be time to seek the help of an orthodontist. Of course, visiting your dentist first for their full opinion is recommended.
Visiting the Dentist
If these practices do not help your child relax their jaw and stop grinding their teeth, you should seek the help of a dental professional. They can provide a mouthguard or other methods to help prohibit your child from grinding their teeth, along with evaluating if any serious damage has occurred due to the grinding.
While teeth grinding can be a serious issue, it is often easily resolved. If you have any more questions or concerns, contact Water Tower Dental. We can help guide you on methods for helping your child stop grinding their teeth and ensure their smiles are bright and healthy.