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Pediatric Teeth Grinding/Bruxism

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a fairly common pediatric dental condition. Although unpleasant for parents to hear, children are often unaware of this behaviour, especially at night. If this condition worsens over a period of time, it is a good idea to have them evaluated by a pediatric dentist. 

Symptoms of nighttime grinding include jaw tenderness, tightness in jaw muscles, earache, headache, visibly worn teeth and increased sensitivity.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

Unfortunately, there is no exact answer behind pediatric bruxism, although several suggestions include:

Local factors, such as misaligned or overcrowded teeth causing occlusal interferences.

Systemic, including earache or other physical pain, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, allergies and sleep disorders.

Stressful life situations, such as a change in environment and tension at home. Children may grind because they feel fear, anger or other negative emotions.

Excessive video gaming or competitive situations.

If a parent is concerned about a child who may be grinding their teeth at night, an important first step is to have an evaluation. Dr. Hammond may recommend the following treatments that may include smoothing of teeth, appliances or crowns to open the bite or a psychological evaluation.

Unlike adults, children who grind are rarely prescribed mouthguards to wear at night. Primary teeth and new permanent teeth are continuously erupting into the oral cavity and this process could be interrupted by a mouthguard. Most children who suffer nocturnal bruxism outgrow the condition on their own without the need for special treatment. Usually, grinding lessens between the ages of 6-9 and stops by the age of 12.

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