Can Teeth Grinding Cause Dental Damage?
So, your child grinds their teeth at night. No worries, this issue is prevalent, and we get tons of questions regarding the effects of teeth grinding on dental health. Bruxism, or the grinding of teeth, is incredibly common among both children and adults. Bruxism can cause a wide variety of dental health issues, but it all depends on how frequently your children grind their teeth, how intense the grinding is, and the underlying reasons for teeth grinding. In this article, we’ll explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for bruxism.
What causes my children to grind their teeth?
Bruxism can have a large variety of underlying causes. Physical, psychological, and even physiological factors can all lead children to grind their teeth. The good news is parents can usually hear intense grinding from their children, primarily when it occurs at nighttime. Identifying this grinding allows your dentist to become aware of the issue and take steps to correct the grinding and prevent any dental damage.
Most commonly, a misaligned jaw or ‘bad bite’ causes jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Additionally, dentists often see children grind their teeth in response to stressors in their lives. For example, if a child is going to a new school or facing a stressful school project, they may begin grinding their teeth. Already present teeth grinding will often intensify under these conditions.
Children with specific brain injuries or developmental disorders face an increased risk of grinding their teeth. In some instances, your dentist may suggest a nighttime mouthpiece to protect your child’s teeth. If your child begins grinding their teeth abruptly, their medications may need to be evaluated. While bruxism is a fairly rare side effect of certain medications, it does happen. Make sure to keep an eye on your child’s teeth grinding after they begin certain medications and bring any concerns to your child’s dentist.
What are some symptoms of teeth grinding?
Unfortunately, light jaw clenching and teeth grinding during the day time can be challenging to identify. For this reason, it’s essential for parents to be aware of the symptoms of teeth grinding. Identifying these symptoms allows you to pinpoint the issue for your children, even if you don’t hear intense grinding at night. Here are some common symptoms of bruxism in children:
- Complaining of frequent headaches
- Loud grinding or clicking sounds
- Injured gums or teeth
- Complaining of jaw pain or issues with jaw muscles (most commonly, in the morning)
- Frequent, rhythmic clenching or tightening of their jaw muscles
- Intense sensitivity to cold or hot foods and drinks
Parents who identify these symptoms in their children should talk to their dentist about the possibility of teeth grinding and how it can be addressed.
How does bruxism damage my child’s teeth?
Bruxism can have a variety of moderate to severe effects on both your child’s teeth and their overall well-being. Severe, intense cases of regular teeth grinding can cause headaches, ear pain, and jaw pain. When it comes to the effects of grinding on your child’s teeth, the good news is your dentist can typically see clues to identify previously undetected cases of teeth grinding.
Most commonly, chronic grinders usually show signs of excessive wear on their teeth. Intense grinding with regularity creates a wear pattern that your dentist will be able to identify. Additionally, if the grinding is caused by jaw misalignment, tooth enamel can be worn down in certain areas. Children who grind their teeth regularly are more susceptible to gum injuries, chipped teeth, facial pain, and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. In very extreme cases, severe grinding can lead to the early onset of TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder).
How do we treat my child’s teeth grinding?
Fortunately, most cases of bruxism stop spontaneously by the age of thirteen in most children. If the teeth grinding continues, however, treatment is usually determined by addressing the cause of the grinding. If grinding is caused by misaligned teeth or jaw, your dentist will offer corrective options to fix the biting surface issues and eliminate the grinding behavior. Grinding brought on by stress will likely be addressed through therapies, exercises, and practices that help alleviate stress and reduce jaw clenching. If the grinding is causing damage to your child’s teeth, your dentist will likely recommend a type of mouth guard, depending on the nature of the issue. Mouth guards, bite plates, and bite splints are extremely effective at preventing grinding damage.