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How do you stop your child from grinding their teeth
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Causes and Treatments
Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors
Medically Reviewed by Evan Frisbee, DMD on July 29, 2021
In this Article
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
How Do I Find Out if I Grind My Teeth?
Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?
What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?
Do Children Grind Their Teeth?
Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
How Do I Find Out if I Grind My Teeth?
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night.
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. They can examine your mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, such as jaw tenderness and excessive wear on your teeth.
Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed.
Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, cause or worsen TMD/TMJ, and even change the appearance of your face.
What Can I Do to Stop Grinding My Teeth?
Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding during sleep. Learn more: Can a night guard straighten your teeth?
If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, ask your doctor or dentist about options to reduce your stress. Attending stress counseling, starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a prescription for muscle relaxants are among some of the options that may be offered.
If a sleeping disorder is causing the grinding, treating it may reduce or eliminate the grinding habit.
Other tips to help you stop teeth grinding include:
Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine, such as colas, chocolate, and coffee.
Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
Do not chew on pencils or pens or anything that is not food. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you more likely to grind your teeth.
Train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax.
Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
Do Children Grind Their Teeth?
The problem of teeth grinding is not limited to adults. Approximately 15% to 33% of children grind their teeth. Children who grind their teeth tend to do so at two peak times -- when their baby teeth emerge and when their permanent teeth come in. Most children lose the teeth grinding habit after these two sets of teeth have come in more fully.
Most commonly, children grind their teeth during sleep rather than during waking hours. No one knows exactly why children grind their teeth but considerations include improperly aligned teeth or irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, illnesses and other medical conditions (such as nutritional deficiencies, pinworm, allergies, endocrine disorders), and psychological factors including anxiety and stress.
Grinding of the baby teeth rarely results in problems. However, teeth grinding can cause jaw pain, headaches, wear on the teeth, and TMD. Consult your dentist if your child's teeth look worn or if your child complains of tooth sensitivity or pain.
Specific tips to help a child stop grinding their teeth include:
No intervention is usually required with preschool-age children. However, older children may need temporary crowns or other methods, such as a night guard, to prevent the grinding.
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Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) - How To Stop Grinding Teeth?
What is bruxism?
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is the conscious or unconscious grinding or clenching of teeth. It happens most often in children. About 20% to 30% of children grind their teeth, usually while asleep. You may have heard your child doing it at night. Sometimes, children will grind their teeth during the day when they feel anxious. The good news is that most children will eventually stop grinding their teeth. This often happens around the time they lose their baby teeth.
What are the symptoms of bruxism?
Physical symptoms are usually related to the teeth and jaw.
Teeth might look worn down or could be chipped. Grinding can wear down tooth enamel. So, the problem exposes children to future dental issues if left untreated. This could include sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.
Children who grind their teeth often say they have a sore jaw. This can happen when they wake up or when they are chewing. Teeth grinding can lead to headaches, earaches, and facial pain. Excessive grinding can cause TMJ, or temporomandibular joint problems.
Teeth grinding also can be tied to emotional issues, such as:
Some people grind their teeth and don’t have any issues. They may not even be aware that they are doing it, especially if they do it when sleeping. Sometimes the only way people know they grind their teeth is because family members hear them doing it while they are asleep.
What causes bruxism?
Doctors don’t always know what causes teeth grinding. Bruxism in children is more common in those diagnosed with a hyperactivity disorder or health issues, such as cerebral palsy. Certain medicines can also cause it. For some children, teeth grinding occurs because their teeth are not aligned properly.
In older children or adults, it may be linked to daily stress. Whether or not it causes symptoms can depend on many things. These include:
The level of stress you have
How hard you grind or clench your teeth and for how long
Your ability to relax
Your sleeping habits
Whether your teeth are misaligned
How is bruxism diagnosed?
A physical exam can usually tell your doctor or dentist if you or your child have been grinding your teeth. Your doctor will notice the appearance of worn teeth and enamel. Medical professionals often consider teeth grinding as a diagnosis when a patient complains of any facial or oral pain, including soreness while chewing. An exam can also rule out other causes of your symptoms, such as ear infections.
Can bruxism be prevented or avoided?
In many children, bruxism is their natural reaction to growth and development. These cases can’t be prevented. But stress-related teeth grinding in children and adults can be avoided. Setting a calming bedtime routine is the first step you can take to avoid teeth grinding. Help your child relax at night:
Limit television and electronics several hours before bed.
Provide calm music for them to listen to.
Give them a warm shower or bath.
Allow them to read or listen while you read.
Reducing stress is important. Talk with your child regularly about his or her feelings. Help them deal with stress. If you are suffering from bruxism, take steps to reduce stress in your life. Talk to a friend, family member, or counselor about what is causing you stress. Try to eliminate stressors if you can.
Treatment for bruxism can depend on your symptoms or the underlying cause. Some children who don’t have symptoms may not need treatment.
Some treatment options are designed to reduce grinding and clenching. Your doctor may begin by having you or your child wear a mouth guard at night. The mouth guard is specially made to fit your teeth. It’s similar to mouth guards used by athletes participating in contact sports. There are many types of mouth guards. They are designed to work in different ways. Some are designed to prevent damage to your teeth. Others prevent the upper and lower teeth from touching to eliminate grinding. Your doctor or dentist will help find the right kind of mouth guard for you.
If your grinding is caused by misaligned teeth, your doctor may recommend a visit to the dentist.
Sometimes stress is the underlying cause of your or your child’s teeth grinding. In this case, getting to the root of emotional problems can often help. For example, your doctor may talk with your child about things that worry them. This could include school, home life, or new experiences. They can try to come up with a plan to help your child be less worried and anxious. If there is no sign of improvement, or the emotional problems seem to be more serious, talk to your doctor to explore further evaluation and treatment options.
Living with bruxism
Teeth clenching or grinding is not dangerous. Most children will outgrow it. But it can cause uncomfortable symptoms that can interfere with daily life. There are steps you can take to reduce and prevent pain. Home care tips include:
Apply wet heat or ice to sore jaw muscles.
Massage the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and face.
Avoid hard, dense, or chewy foods, such as nuts, bagels, or steak.
Don’t chew gum.
Learn physical therapy stretching exercises.
Relax your facial muscles throughout the day.
Learn relaxation techniques.
If self-care steps don’t help after several weeks and you are still experiencing symptoms, call your family doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor
Does grinding your teeth run in the family?
How can I keep the noise of my or my child’s teeth grinding from affecting the entire family?
Will the damage to my child’s teeth affect his or her appetite?
My child still has his or her baby teeth. Do I need to worry about damage to the teeth?
Will you treat this problem, or will I need to see a dentist?
Why a child grinds his teeth - what to do if a small child grinds his teeth in a dream
Grinding of teeth in a dream appears in every third child. The problem is faced more often by parents of boys. Night creaking scares and forces you to do the wrong things. Someone listens to the advice that nothing needs to be done, while others self-medicate diseases that the child does not have. Both approaches are wrong, you need to act according to the situation.
Causes of teeth grinding in a child
In medicine, the condition when a child grinds his teeth is called bruxism. The first symptoms appear in infants during teething, but then they gradually fade away. Signs of bruxism can appear during kindergarten age and after the transition to school. But by the age of 6-7, the majority of involuntary grinding of teeth disappears.
Inexperienced parents associate the appearance of unpleasant sounds with worms. But studies show that the presence of helminths does not affect the appearance of creaking. Why some people associate these two states with each other is unknown. Perhaps the reproduction of worms that are able to migrate through the oropharynx, or the nighttime itching of the anal area caused by crawling females, is to blame.
The cause of grinding teeth must be sought elsewhere. In an infant, this is associated with teething. More often the problem manifests itself in the eighth month and later, when several teeth appeared on the upper and lower jaws. The baby has an immature nervous system, and the milk incisors irritate the nerve fibers adjacent to them - salivation intensifies, and the jaw muscles spasm. But creaking in babies is unexpressed and lasts a few seconds. Some experts believe that the problem appears due to a strong pain impulse.
Children of one year of age and older grind their teeth for another reason:
Incorrect bite - when the jaw is formed incorrectly, the position of the teeth is disturbed, the load on the muscles is redistributed, so creaking may occur at night and during the day.
Heredity - parents may have a tendency to bruxism and periodically grind their teeth, so this symptom will also appear in the child.
Calcium deficiency - can occur in a one-year-old child and at an older age. Calcium is necessary for muscle contractions, its lack causes spasm. Sometimes this is a local convulsive tension of the muscles of the jaws.
Nervous overexertion - such a cause of bruxism is typical for preschoolers and younger schoolchildren. Computer games, traumatic situations, watching TV before going to bed, and even the first trip to the garden or school have an irritating effect.
Dental causes - improperly made fillings that rise above the crown of the tooth and do not allow the jaw to close, as well as pathology of periodontal tissues or the temporomandibular joint.
Children with some pathologies of the nervous system can grind their teeth during the day. Sometimes this is the first sign of a special form of epilepsy, which manifests itself in the form of a local short-term muscle spasm, and not convulsions throughout the body.
A baby can grind his teeth if his jaws are growing fast but they don't have enough load. Therefore, from 4-5 months they are given to gnaw smooth hard teethers, vegetables and fruits.
Grinding of teeth treatment
If a baby grinds his teeth while sleeping, special treatment is not always needed. If a symptom of a tremor of the lower jaw appeared in a one-month-old baby, this is an alarming sign. mother should pay attention to how the baby takes the breast, at what time the jaw spasm or chin trembling appears. A consultation with a neurologist is required. It is possible that during pregnancy or childbirth the baby suffered a brain injury or suffered from hypoxia.
When a 7-8 month old baby starts to creak, the pediatrician may recommend an easy teething gel, such as Dentinox. Experienced mothers purchase cooling silicone teethers in advance, about which the baby scratches the gums.
If the analgesic effect of the cooling tooth gel is insufficient, give the child paracetamol or ibuprofen syrup. They relieve inflammation from the gums, eliminate pain and swelling.
In autumn and winter, a 4-5 month old baby experiences calcium deficiency. At this time of the year, the number of sunny days decreases, and the need for the mineral increases. Calcium is absorbed from milk if there is enough vitamin D in the intestines. It is produced under the influence of ultraviolet radiation. With a lack of sunlight, the vitamin is small, so it is necessary to take it in the form of an aqueous solution of drops. Vitamin D will not harm both a one-year-old baby and schoolchildren in the winter season. The dosage of the drug is selected by the pediatrician individually, so as not to cause a state of hypervitaminosis, which is dangerous for the kidneys.
Treatment of creaking, which often appears after overexertion, stress, is carried out with sedatives. For children, the doctor may prescribe herbal sedatives or herbal teas with mint, valerian, motherwort, and other combinations.
If the pediatrician cannot determine why the child continues to grind his teeth, a dental examination is necessary. The doctor grinds off protruding fillings, checks the function of the temporomandibular joint. In case of periodontal inflammation, caries, a special treatment will be prescribed. Incorrect bite is a reason to go to the orthodontist. He will pick up a mouthguard to protect the enamel of the teeth from abrasion. If the bite is defective, you will need to use braces or a corrective plate, which is removed at night.
In case of repeated squeaking, the appearance of convulsive contractions in other muscle groups, they are examined by a neurologist. The result of an electroencephalogram may indicate a mild form of epilepsy. For treatment, the doctor will prescribe anticonvulsant drugs. They will help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures. If you refuse therapy, this phenomenon will occur more often and more severely.
Bruxism at an early age is preventable. Parents are advised to reconsider the daily routine. The last meal should be no later than 2 hours before bedtime. From 4-5 months old, babies can be given an apple or carrot to chew on in the evening so that their muscles are tired and do not shrink outward.
During the day, parents control that the child does not make arbitrary movements with his jaws, does not creak them, expressing negative emotions. Watching TV and staying at a computer monitor or phone is limited to 2 hours a day. Before going to bed, it is advisable to completely abandon such entertainment and take time for calm board games, a walk in the fresh air or reading books. In the evening, try to maintain a positive emotional mood to ensure a restful sleep.
Pediatricians recommend taking small doses of vitamin D from October to March to prevent calcium deficiency. Therefore, schoolchildren can switch to calcium complexes with vitamin D or multivitamins, for example, Evalar baby.
Dentist visits and proper oral care can be taught from early childhood. This helps reduce the risk of bruxism due to periodontitis or fillings.
Why does a child grind his teeth in his sleep
Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a common problem in children that causes concern to parents. This phenomenon does not apply to diseases. This is a symptom that signals various failures in the endocrine, digestive and nervous systems of the child's body. Here it is necessary to pay attention to other changes in the behavior of the child. The exact cause can only be established by a doctor after a thorough examination.
In the article we will try to find out why a child can grind his teeth, how dangerous it is, and what to do in this case.
What is bruxism and its manifestations
Bruxism is a pathological condition that occurs due to excessive compression of the jaws.
Under the age of 5 years, grinding of the teeth is observed in almost 50% of children. This happens involuntarily, and is associated with a spasm of the masticatory muscles. Usually, the pathology occurs at night, paroxysmal for 10-15 seconds. Attacks can be repeated in the daytime. At the same time, daily grinding of teeth gives parents more anxiety, as it is more noticeable.
Help! Sporadic cases of teeth grinding are not dangerous and do not require intervention. If the attacks become chronic, the help of a pediatrician is needed.
In addition to squeaking teeth, the following manifestations of pathology are possible in a child:
daytime sleepiness, lethargy;
pain in the neck;
tooth sensitivity - the result of their abrasion and damage to the enamel;
restless sleep with frequent awakenings;
Dentists identify a triad of symptoms in childhood bruxism (up to 5 years). This is erosive abrasion of milk teeth, malocclusion and narrowing of the dental arches. Teeth grinding usually goes away on its own when the child reaches puberty. In adolescents and young people, grinding their teeth is a rare occurrence.
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Causes of teeth grinding in sleep
Until the end, the exact causes of pathological grinding of teeth have not been clarified. In most cases, seizures occur at night, so sleep disturbances are a common cause. In children, this is associated with hypertrophy of the tonsils and adenoids, which makes nasal breathing difficult and leads to apnea (suspension of breathing during sleep). Obesity is also a contributing factor.
Other possible reasons why a child may grind their teeth include:
Incorrect deep bite.
Individual characteristics of the inclination of the lower jaw.
Nervous tension, emotional overexcitation.
Neurological or endocrine disorders.
Causes and manifestations may vary depending on what time of day bruxism occurs.
Night grinding of teeth
If during sleep you notice several seizures, and at the same time the child behaves restlessly (breathing becomes more frequent, pupils actively move, talks), then the reason is emotional overexcitation. More often this manifests itself in emotionally sensitive children, overly active or with hyperexcitability syndrome.
Stress can also provoke night bruxism - moving to a new apartment, entering a kindergarten, divorce of parents or frequent scandals at home. In the daytime, the child tries not to show his emotions and tension accumulates, and at night it “splashes out” through clenching of the jaws and grinding of teeth.
In some cases, an ordinary seal, which was installed incorrectly, can become a provocateur. It can interfere with the tight closure of the jaw, and the child is too small to tell about it. Difficulty in nasal breathing and snoring in a child's sleep is a sign of problems with the adenoids. In this case, you need to consult an ENT doctor.
Daytime grinding of teeth
During the day, a spasm of the masticatory muscles in a baby may occur due to teething. It is also possible to form a malocclusion, which leads to discomfort and clenching of the jaws. In these situations, you need to show the child to the dentist.
During a stressful situation, involuntary grinding of teeth is possible. Observe when the child has this phenomenon during the day, what precedes it. With frequent attacks, it is recommended to consult a child psychologist or neurologist. Digestive and endocrine problems can also cause daytime bruxism.
What about worms?
There is a common belief that grinding teeth can be a sign of a parasitic disease. This is due to the fact that preschool children often suffer from helminths. And it is for this age that creaking of teeth is characteristic. Also, this assumption was explained by the fact that when infected with helminths, salivation increases. This provokes the compression of the jaws, which leads to the grinding of the teeth. But according to research experts, this is just a coincidence. A direct relationship between the presence of worms in a child and bruxism has not been identified.
Is bruxism dangerous and what are the consequences
Bruxism does not lead to serious health problems, and even more so does not threaten the development and life of the child. Most of all, parents are worried about this phenomenon, and they begin a hospital quest in search of the cause. As a rule, the child grows out of this problem without the participation of a doctor, if it is not chronic. This is due to the development of the chewing apparatus, the elimination of problems with adenoids and the normalization of sleep.
If the grinding of the teeth is repeated often for several months, then a doctor's consultation is necessary. Otherwise, bruxism can lead to the following consequences:
thinning of tooth enamel and increased sensitivity of teeth;
problems with fillings, they will crumble and crack;
loosening of milk teeth;
headaches and decreased concentration;
overload of the maxillofacial joint;
spasm of the facial muscles.
Excessive tooth wear increases the risk of bruxism during adolescence and adolescence. Also, a strong uncontrolled spasm of the jaws can lead to dislocation of the temporomandibular joint.
What to do if a child grinds his teeth in his sleep
Pay attention to when attacks most often occur - during the day, at night, at home or in a public place. Also record other violations in the child's behavior and his health complaints. Seek advice from a pediatrician, pediatric dentist. Pass the necessary tests and go through the examinations prescribed by the doctor.
The following tips will also help to cope with bruxism:
Adjust the psychological climate at home. Try not to swear with loved ones in front of the child, talk to the baby more often and ask him to talk about his feelings, fears.
Do not load your child with various early development circles.
Organize the right daily routine with obligatory daytime sleep. The nervous system of the child needs a break during the day, even if he himself looks active and does not want to sleep. Take a relaxing bath 1-2 hours before bed and read a book. Active games should be prohibited.
Review your diet. Add solid vegetables to the menu to provide a load on the chewing muscles.
If the baby often catches a cold, suffers from a chronic runny nose or nasal congestion, then you need to check the adenoids. With a syndrome of hyperactivity and emotional excitability of a child, it is recommended to visit a psychologist or neurologist.
Treatment and prevention of teeth grinding during sleep
There is no specific treatment for bruxism, since this pathology is not an independent disease. The main task of the doctor is to identify the cause of the pathology. This will depend on the treatment plan. To eliminate the grinding of teeth, drug therapy, physiotherapy, correction of the emotional state and dental methods are used, for example, the installation of protective caps on the teeth.
The main methods of therapy:
Normalization of sleep with the help of sedatives.
Taking vitamins of group B, preparations with magnesium and calcium.
Treatment of adenoids.
Psychological correction - art therapy, music therapy, sandbox. Working with parents in the presence of intra-family conflicts.
To relieve muscle tension, you can use coniferous baths, massage and exercises in the pool.
The dentist helps to protect the teeth from abrasion by installing a special protective cap. It is made of soft material, so it does not cause discomfort. It can only be worn at night. The most optimal is the manufacture of caps on an individual cast. But you can also buy ready-made ones. This method is only suitable for students.
Also, in the presence of damage to the enamel and sensitivity, fluoridation and remineralization of the teeth are carried out. If necessary, caries is treated.
An orthodontist can help correct your bite. For this, plates, bracket systems are used. Orthodontic design is selected individually, based on the severity of the problem and the age of the child. Incorrect bite is easy to correct when the jaws have not yet fully formed. Therefore, the sooner you visit a pediatric orthodontist, the better the result will be.