When you notice your sleeping child, you may notice some common sighs like sounds of sweet dreams and easy breathing. But, some parents hear an awkward and harsh sound of grinding and gnashing teeth and this is termed as bruxism, which is common in children. It is the medical term used for clenching of jaws and grinding of teeth. It generally occurs when a child sleeps or when he/she is under stress. Reports state that 2-3 out of 10 kids will have this problem.
What causes bruxism?
Even though, many studies are conducted, no one was able to identify the reason behind teeth grinding in children. Children may do this because their top and bottom teeth are not properly aligned. Others do it in response to pains like ear ache and teething issues. They do this as a means of easing the pain. Generally, nervous tension or anger can cause this condition. For instance, a child may be worried about a new sibling, a new teacher at school or about a test, which will be shown in the way of teeth grinding. Reports state that hyperactive kids also show up this condition and even some medications can develop this habit in children.
Will bruxism cause any effect?
Even though, this habit will go away as the child grows without any adverse effects, in some children, it may cause problems like ear ache and headache. There are also chances that when kids continue to do this at nights, the tooth enamel will wear down and may cause severe jaw problem and facial pain in them. There are chances of Temporomandibular Joint Disease as well. However, this problem will not occur unless the grinding is chronic.
How is it diagnosed?
Generally, kids having this problem do not know that they are grinding the teeth as they generally do this when sleeping and so only their parents should identify it. Here are some of the signs to know:
• Crunching noises when the kid is sleeping
• Pain when chewing and
• Complaints of a pain in the face, particularly around the mouth in the morning.
When these signs are found, parents should take the child to the dentist, who will examine for signs of damaged enamel and unusual wear and tear. Also, the dentist will spray air or water on the teeth to find whether the child has some abnormal sensitivity. When the dentist detects that there is some damage in the dental line, the child will be asked certain questions like:
• What do you feel before going to bed every day?
• Do you have fear about something?
• Are you angry with someone in school or at home?
Based on the answer given by the child, the dentist will identify whether the grinding is caused due to some anatomical causes like misaligned teeth or whether it is caused due to stress or fear to arrive at the right treatment plan.
Generally, the problem will go away on this own. But, the best parental control and dentist visit will ease the child to get out of the issue. Depending on the severity of the grinding habit, the dentist might suggest a teeth guard that should be worn by the child during sleep to provide protection to the enamel.