What To Do When Children Grind Their Teeth

If you’ve heard your child grinding teeth at night or noticed they’ve complained of jaw pain, then you’re not alone. It’s not uncommon for children to grind their teeth and Harrisburg Pediatric Dentistry can help put you and your child at ease.

What does it mean when my child grinds their teeth?

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is the grinding or clenching of the teeth, usually subconsciously. Those who deal with bruxism find themselves grinding their teeth while sleeping or in stressful situations. For children, however, bruxism is typically related to the anatomy of the immature jaw joint, and usually ceases once the permanent teeth come in, or erupt, and the jaw joint matures.

If your child is grinding their teeth, they may be exhibiting one or more signs of bruxism:

  • Waking with a sore jaw
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches
  • Popping or clicking jaw sounds through the day
  • Chipped, cracked, worn, or sensitive teeth
  • Teeth sensitivity

Effects of teeth grinding

When your child grinds their teeth during the day or through the night, the enamel on their teeth begins to wear down and the overall shape of their teeth can start to change. If not stopped or prevented, the grating motion can cause severe dental damage. Teeth grinding can lead to problems with the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. This is the joint which allows our jaws to move up and down, back and forth, and side to side.

How to prevent teeth grinding

Unfortunately there is not much to help children stop grinding their teeth when they are under ten. However, there is a way to help protect your child’s teeth from the grinding. If your child grinds their teeth at night, Harrisburg Pediatric Dentistry recommends your child wear a mouthguard while sleeping.

Next steps for a night guard

Before purchasing a night guard for your child to wear while sleeping, Harrisburg Pediatric Dentistry recommends coming in for a visit and seeing the pediatric dentist. The dentist will be able to determine if teeth grinding is occurring, how it’s affecting your child’s teeth, and if a night guard is appropriate.

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Flouride being applied to child's teeth at Harrisburg Pediatric Dentistry