Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is a condition caused by stress and anxiety, but bruxism can also occur in children.
According to the American Dental Association, bruxism is common in children. Experts say that three out of every ten kids will clench or grind their teeth. Bruxism has been reported in about twenty percent of kids up until they the age of 11. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding occurs when kids are in a deep sleep or under stress. However, because kid’s jaws and teeth change and grow quickly, it is usually outgrown by adolescence.
When your kids are asleep, the last thing you want to hear is grinding and tooth gnashing. Although there have been several studies conducted, no one really knows for sure why bruxism occurs. Some possible causes include misaligned teeth, allergies, or mouth irritations. Your dentist explains that kids may also grind teeth to ease pain from teething or an earache. Anger or nervous tension can also be a possible cause, especially if there has been a change to his or her normal routine. Arguing family members can also cause jaw clenching or tooth grinding because of additional stress. Hyperactivity could also be another cause of bruxism.
Most cases of bruxism often go undetected. Unless your child is experiencing earaches or headaches, there may not be any adverse effects. Usually it is the family members who are most bothered by bruxism because of the sound of tooth grinding and gnashing.
Depending on the child, your dentist will tell you that teeth clenching and grinding can actually wear down the enamel on the teeth, cause chipping, or tooth breakage. Other effects that may occur from bruxism include temperature sensitivity, jaw problems, and severe facial pain. Although it is not common in children, problems with the temporomandibular joint or TMJ may be to blame, especially if clenching and grinding is chronic.
Bruxism episodes last about four seconds and can happen about six times in an hour. In a recent study, it was found that bruxism episodes occur in stage two and REM sleep and in clusters.
If you suspect that your child may be suffering from bruxism, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist who can help determine the cause of your kids clenching and grinding.