Does your little one grind his or her teeth at night?
The nighttime grinding of teeth (bruxism) can be very alarming. Typically, the parent will hear the noise created by the child grinding their teeth during sleep. In addition, one might notice wear (teeth getting shorter).
So what causes bruxism? One suggestion is psychological, and that different types of stress (due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc.) can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory pertains to pressure in the inner ear. If pressure changes (i.e. an airplane during take-off and landing — people chewing gum to equalize pressure), it is often a natural response to grind by moving the jaw to relieve this pressure.
Most cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment at all. If we see excessive wear of the teeth (also known as attrition), then we might prescribe a mouth guard (night guard). There are some things to consider (negative) before moving forward with a mouth guard for your child. Firstly, there is a possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep. Secondly, it could interfere with growth of the jaws. The positive is obvious by preventing wear. We will discuss all the pros and cons of any treatment we deem necessary for your child, and give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Most children outgrow bruxism, without any treatment necessary. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop completely between ages 9-12.
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