FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
My child grinds his/her teeth while sleeping, should I worry?
What are the symptoms of Nighttime (nocturnal) pediatric Bruxism?
The symptoms of night-time grinding may vary, but a few of the more obvious may include:
- Tenderness in the jaw
- Tightness in the jaw muscles
- Visibly worn teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity
What Causes a Child to Grind his Teeth at Night?
The incidence of bruxism or “grinding” has been increasing over the past several decades and researchers believe that 70% of grinding is directly related to stress. Society has become increasingly stressful for both adults and children. Families are often “on the go” from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. Between this time, there is virtually no true down time or stillness due to invasion of technology. Most children now grow up in front of a screen 24/7. Whether it’s TV, video games, computers, or cell phones, experts all agree that this immersion in constant stimulation is having negative effects on our brains in the form of stress, interruption of sleep, and ability to concentrate.
This combination of chronic unmanaged stress and teeth grinding can fuel insomnia. Insomnia then leads to reduced daily function which can trigger further stress and continue the vicious cycle of stress, teeth grinding, and sleep difficulties. Meditation and other psychological methods of stress reduction may prove helpful in breaking the cycle, but relaxation alone may not be enough to save teeth from the damage of grinding.
How do I help my child if he suffers from night time teeth-grinding?
If a parent is concerned about a child who may be grinding his teeth at night, an important first step is to have him evaluated by a pediatric dentist.
- In many cases, a child will not need any treatment other than confident reassurance from a dentist specialized in working with children. Unlike adults, children who grind are rarely prescribed mouth guards to wear at night. Except in severe situations where there may be risk of infection or damage to permanent teeth, treatments such as mouth guards are likely not needed and may not be beneficial. In addition, the continual growth, change and development of a child’s oral cavity make fitting a child with a mouth guard costly as a new mouth guard would have to be made every time a primary tooth was lost.
- Children age 13 and over that continue to grind can benefit from a custom “Night Guard” that limits enamel wear, decreases grinding forces, and relieves muscle tension.
- It may also be helpful to speak to a counselor trained in stress reduction techniques.
So, what’s the GOOD news?
Most children who suffer from nocturnal Bruxism outgrow the condition on their own without the need for special treatment. Usually grinding lessens between the ages 6-9 and completely stops by the age of 12.
What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?
What should I do if my child has a toothache?
Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?
How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?
How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?
How do I make my child’s diet safe for his teeth?
- Avoiding processed foods
- Stop drinking soda, sports drinks, and fruit juice
- Chose higher fiber complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates
- Become an avid label reader watching for added sugars
- Make sweets a once a week treat versus an everyday thing
- Avoid anything with artificial fruit flavoring as such products often contain acids that weaken enamel
- Chose whole fruit over fruit juice