When parents watch their children sleeping there prefer hearing the sounds of sweet dreams like easy breathing and an occasional sigh. However, some parents hear the sounds of grinding and clenching the teeth which are a problem clinically known as bruxism. This is the clinical term given to this condition where children and adults alike grind and clench their jaws when sleeping. Most children outgrow the problem but experts believe about three in 10 children have the problem and need teeth grinding treatment to overcome this issue.
The precise reasons for bruxism haven’t been identified by the medical fraternity. It is believed that in some cases the children may grind their teeth because of a misalignment between the top and bottom teeth. Some may be doing it as a result of a painful situation or even from an earache. Children are accustomed to grinding their teeth as a method of easing the pain just as they might do with a sore muscle. The fairly common causes of grinding and clenching will be outgrown by most children.
Some children may be angry or nervous and the stress caused by this condition could make them grind their teeth. Children may be concerned about tests in school, a routine change, a new teacher or a new sibling. Even an argument with the parents and other siblings can cause sufficient stress in the child to prompt jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
The side-effects of teeth grinding affect the parents more than they affect the child and in many cases the problem of bruxism is undetected. Some cases may cause headaches while others may leave the child with an earache. The members of the family are more likely to be concerned than the child because of the grinding sound.
Nighttime grinding and clenching can wear down the tooth enamel in some cases and even cause problems with chipped teeth, increased sensitivity to temperatures, severe facial and jaw pain and other problems like TMJ. TMJ problems, however, are not visible among children that do not grind and clench their teeth a lot.
Children with the problem of bruxism are not aware of it and therefore it will be the responsibility of the parents and the siblings to identify the problem. They can look for some signs such as grinding noises when the child is sleeping and complaints of a sore face or jaw when they wake up in the morning. The child may also complain about pain when chewing.
If you believe your child is grinding or clenching his or her teeth you should be taking the child to the pediatric dentist who will conduct a thorough examination of the child’s teeth to look for chipped enamel, and unusual wear and tear. The dentist will also spray air and water on the teeth to notice signs of any unusual sensitivity. The dentist will recommend pediatric bruxism treatment if the problem is pronounced and is disturbing the child.
As mentioned earlier most children will outgrow bruxism but they can be helped by a combination of dental visits and parental observation to keep a close watch over the condition until they can manage it themselves.
In situations where the grinding and clenching is leaving the child with a sore face or jaw, the pediatric dentist may recommend bruxism & teeth grinding treatment in the form of a special night guard. The night guard a similar to mouthguards worn by athletes and is molded to the child’s teeth. Positive results can be observed by the parents quickly despite the night guard being uncomfortable for some time.
Children will be able to control bruxism by relaxing before bedtime regardless of whether the cause of the condition is physical or psychological. Listening to some music, reading a book or having a hot shower are some helpful practices that parents can prompt the child to adopt.
Trying to understand the causes of any stress will also help the child find the assurance he or she needs from the parents. If the child has trouble sleeping or is acting differently the period dentist or doctor may suggest further evaluation. They will be attempting to understand the causes of the stress to identify a proper course of treatment for the child. Parents may not be required to take the child to emergency dental care in Michigan but will certainly need to visit their pediatric dentist for advice on how they can best help their child to deal with the problem of bruxism.