San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA
What is teeth grinding? Bruxism, otherwise known as teeth grinding, is when you grind or gnash your teeth together with no function. Warning factors that a child is grinding their teeth include sounds made while a child is sleeping, or the child’s teeth becoming smaller over time due to being worn down from grinding. If you have noticed either of these things, then you’re probably interested in learning why your child grinds their teeth.
Why do children grind their teeth?
There are many reasons children grind their teeth; the most common is stress. A common theory is that external stressors cause bruxism: whether it is from stress at school, home, or some new change in a child’s life. Not only can external stresses cause bruxism, but also so can internal stress. Children moving their jaw to relieve inner ear pressure, like the ear pressure experienced during altitude changes or when a child has an inner ear infection, has also been linked to teeth grinding. Evidence of children experiencing bruxism while they’re teething suggests that it is also an attempt to relieve jaw pressure or find a comfortable position. Teeth grinding can start in very young children and even infants when teeth start protruding from the gums and continue as teeth become loose again when the child is older and ready to begin loosing their baby teeth.
Another reason for childhood bruxism is an obstruction in the upper airway
A couple of common examples of upper airway obstructions include enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and sleep apnea. When the tonsils or adenoids are enlarged, they can block a child’s airway. Simply removing the tonsils and adenoids has been shown to lessen the likelihood of children grinding their teeth. Children with sleep apnea, a disorder in which the tongue and tissues in the back of the mouth fall backward and block the airway during sleep, often grind their teeth. These children sometimes snore, breathe through their mouths, wake up gasping for air, and do not have restful nights of sleep because of their condition. However, treatment for sleep apnea may lessen the chances of prolonged childhood teeth grinding.
Medications may contribute to children and teenagers grinding their teeth
The number of children being prescribed medications that can be linked to bruxism is growing every year. Antidepressants are now being given to children at younger ages and often can lead to bruxism. Children with ADHD or ADD that are prescribed amphetamines also can suffer from teeth grinding.
How do you deal with teeth grinding?
With all of these varying factors and possibilities, you may now be wondering, what do you do? Teeth grinding is a very normal habit for children, particularly under the age of 11. However, any amount of teeth grinding should be examined by your child’s pediatric dentist in San Francisco as ignoring the problem could lead to extreme tooth wear, pain, or prevent your child from sleeping. However, if your child has other symptoms or signs, such as an upper airway obstruction or severe wear of permanent teeth, you should seek further evaluation from the professionals at Glen Park Dental for the possibility of sleep apnea.
For children whose dental health is at risk from bruxism, we can provide a mouth guard that can be worn during sleep. This mouth guard will not stop your child from grinding their teeth but will protect their teeth from being damaged. Each of our mouth guards fabricated are made from top-quality materials and constructed from impressions of your mouth to make sure there is a comfortable and effective fit. If you believe an appointment may be needed to address your child’s bruxism, contact us at (415) 585-1500.
Glen Park Dental provides oral health care to patients in the Bay Area including San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, California.