Is Teeth Grinding Harmful For Children?
Is your child clenching and grinding teeth in sleep? It could be harmful, say experts.
Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding involves grinding of both sets of teeth together, consciously or unconsciously, when awake or during sleep. It can lead to several dental and medical problems due to the stress it exerts on the surrounding structures in the jaw, teeth, and head.
What are the causes of teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding is often associated with stress and anxiety. It can also occur due to misalignment of teeth, missing teeth or an abnormal bite. It may also be seen in certain sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Other causes of severe teeth grinding include:
- Suppressed anger or frustration
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Gum recession
- Worn out teeth and tooth loss
Bruxism is a subconscious action, which means children are unaware that they are doing it. While the child is asleep, the force with which the jaws clench together can be upto 6 times higher than the pressure while the child is awake which indicates that nighttime bruxism causes significant damage.
What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?
Symptoms of kids grinding teeth include:
- Pain, soreness, and stiffness in jaw joint and the surrounding muscles
- Worn out teeth leading to increased tooth sensitivity
- Facial pain
- Broken or fractured teeth and fillings
What are the ways to stop grinding teeth?
There are plenty of treatments available for teeth grinding. A mouthpiece for grinding teeth decreases the sensation of teeth grinding. It also helps to alleviate the pain and protect teeth from excessive wear and tear, preventing future damage. Other methods include:
- Muscle relaxation exercises for face
- Diet and nutritional changes
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for children with stress and anxiety
Some tips to help children sleep better include:
- Following a set bedtime routine
- Parent-child interaction before bedtime to establish a relaxed setting
- Keeping children away from TV, video games or any media gadgets
- Preventing child from sleeping while they are being fed, rocked or nursed
- Avoid giving the child any foods that are high in caffeine. This includes sodas, chocolates, tea, energy drinks, and coffee. Also, avoid giving medicines such as cough medicines or decongestants at bedtime as some of them contain stimulants.
In extreme cases, the child may be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist to help with severe stress and suppressed emotions that have led to teeth grinding. If the teeth are worn out, it is important to visit a dentist to avoid future complications such as dental abscess or an infection. Parents who feel their child may be suffering from a sleep disorder must visit a pediatrician or a sleep specialist.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor.
Also read - Dental Care In Children
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