Pediatric Bruxism: Causes, Signs, and Treatment

Pediatric Bruxism: Causes, Signs, and Treatment
Posted on 05/19/2021
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Occasional teeth clenching might not cause much damage to your child’s teeth. However, you should intervene in cases of chronic teeth grinding and clenching. Read on to learn the causes, signs, and how to manage bruxism, or regular teeth clenching and grinding.

Causes

Pediatric bruxism has multiple causes, and dentists think they haven't unearthed all of them. Below are some of the known common causes.

Stress

Stress can cause bruxism both in children and adults. A stressed child might grind or clench their teeth as a coping strategy — in most cases, unconsciously. Thus, bruxism might develop due to bullying, relocation, parental separation, or other things that stress kids.

Dental Misalignment

Some kids involuntarily grind their teeth because teeth on the top and bottom jaws don't align properly. In this case, the teeth inevitably touch when the child closes their mouth.

Pain

Bruxism can also mean that your child is in pain. A child might grind their teeth to deal with chronic pain, just as you might scratch an itch on your arm.

Hyperactivity

According to kidshealth.org, bruxism can also be a sign of hyperactivity. Hyperactive kids distract easily, are impulsive, and struggle to remain calm or inactive for prolonged periods.

Medical Issues

Lastly, bruxism can also arise as a symptom of a health problem elsewhere in the body. For example, cerebral palsy can trigger bruxism.

Signs

Family members, along with the dentist, can spot signs of bruxism in a child. Below are some of the things to watch out for.

Grinding Noises

Grinding noises are classic symptoms of bruxism. Watch out for such signs when the child is sleeping or relaxed.

Pain Complaints

A child dealing with bruxism might complain of pain in different parts of the body. They might complain of:

  • Jaw pain
  • Teeth pain
  • Earaches

In such cases, the pain might be either the cause or the effect of bruxism.

Worn Teeth

You should also suspect bruxism if your child's teeth appear worn or damaged. Such damage usually occurs if the child has been grinding their teeth for a long time.

Dental Sensitivity Complaints

The enamel, which is the outermost layer of the teeth, protects sensitive tissues underneath it (such as the dentin). Once the enamel wears down, the teeth become hypersensitive to hot or cold substances. Thus, you might suspect bruxism if the child complains of dental discomfort when eating hot or cold food.

Unexplained Headaches 

Lastly, unexplained headaches can also mean bruxism. The headache might appear alone or accompanied by earaches, jaw pain, and dental pain, among other forms of discomfort.

Treatment

Many children manage to overcome their bruxism without intervention. However, prolonged bruxism can trigger multiple dental problems. Thus, you should intervene if your child has been dealing with the condition for a long time. Below are some management measures that can help.

Root Cause Management

The first step is to diagnose the cause of the condition. A pediatric dentist can help you with the diagnosis. The diagnosis is necessary to help you address the cause of the problem. For example, if the child is dealing with stress, you should help them overcome it. Otherwise, the bruxism will continue or repeat even if you manage to stop it temporarily.

Protective Mouthguard

The dentist may prescribe a custom mouthguard that the child wears while sleeping. The mouthguard covers the child's teeth and prevents grinding or clenching. The mouthguard can help alongside other treatment options.

Treasured Smiles Pediatric Dentistry wants the best oral and dental health for your child. We can diagnose and help manage your child's bruxism. We have vast experience with pediatric dental problems, and your child will feel comfortable at our office. Contact us for a consultation today.