Plenty of kids grind their teeth, especially when they sleep. In fact, WebMD says as many as a third of kids are chronic teeth grinders, and a lot of those kids continue grinding their teeth well into their adult years. You might think teeth grinding (also called bruxism) is a harmless habit. But if you let the habit continue untreated, all that excess friction on the teeth surfaces can cause significant problems.
Fortunately, at Dentistry for Children, we offer solutions to help kids protect their teeth and even quit their grinding habit. The key to preventing damage is to seek treatment as soon as possible. Of course, first, you need to determine if your child is grinding their teeth. Here’s what you should look for.
Telltale signs of teeth grinding
When a child grinds his or her teeth at night during sleep, parents are often able to hear the teeth grinding together, especially if the child is a heavy grinder. If a sibling shares the room, they also may hear grinding noises. That’s certainly the easiest way to know if your child has a teeth grinding problem. But what if you listen and don’t hear anything, or you aren’t able to listen while your child is sleeping? That’s when it’s time to look for other clues.
Headaches, earaches or jaw pain
Since teeth grinding places a lot of excess stress and strain on the jaw muscles, many chronic teeth grinders have frequent headaches or ear or jaw pain. If your child has any of these complaints, there’s a good chance he or she is a grinder.
Tooth pain or sensitivity
Grinding puts a lot of pressure on the tooth surfaces and on the roots too. When a child grinds on a regular basis, all that pressure can make teeth very sore, or the surrounding gums can become overly sensitive. In extreme cases, grinding can cause tiny cracks or chips to form in the tooth. Those cracks can make your child’s teeth very sensitive to hot or cold foods, another clue your child may be grinding their teeth.
If your child has been grinding for a while, the jaw joints may have become irritated or inflamed. When that happens, you may hear clicking noises when your child chews or yawns. Even if you don’t hear them, your child may. Pay attention if they report any unusual noises when they chew.
Rhythmic jaw movements
Sometimes if you closely, you may actually see your child grinding, especially when they’re focused on other activities like watching TV or playing video games. Look for repetitive tightening movements or side-to-side movements in the jaws.
Not all children who grind their teeth will exhibit noticeable symptoms. But that still doesn’t mean your child’s grinding habit will go unnoticed. During your child’s six-month dental check-up, Dr. Sina will carefully examine each tooth for any telltale signs of grinding, like worn tooth edges or tiny cracks.
A lifetime of healthy teeth and gums
Bringing your child to Dentistry for Children every six months is one of the best things you can do to help your child enjoy healthy teeth and gums now and during their adult years. Not only do routine checkups with Dr. Sina help identify (and stop) grinding and other oral health problems in their earliest stages, but taking your child to see the dentist regularly establishes a healthy pattern of behavior that can stick with your child even after they’ve grown and left the nest. If your child is exhibiting the signs of teeth grinding, or if they’re having any other unusual symptoms, don’t delay care. Book an appointment online today.