As parents, our children’s health is always our top priority. But while we might keep a close watch on their overall health, there are some lesser-known issues, such as teeth grinding, that can easily escape our notice. Known medically as ‘bruxism’, teeth grinding is not just an adult concern. In fact, many children and teens also suffer from this condition.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for grinding, gnashing, or clenching your teeth. While it can happen during the day, it often occurs at night when children are asleep, which is termed “nocturnal bruxism”.
Prevalence in Children and Teens
You may be surprised to know that bruxism is relatively common in children. It’s estimated that about 20-30% of children grind their teeth at some point, especially when they are getting their baby and permanent teeth. While many outgrow it by adolescence, some continue to grind into their teenage years.
Causes of Bruxism in Children and Teens
- Teething or Dental Discomfort: As new teeth erupt, children might grind to alleviate the discomfort.
- Improper Alignment: Misaligned teeth can lead to grinding.
- Stress and Anxiety: Just like adults, children can be affected by stress, which may manifest as teeth grinding.
- Other Medical Conditions: Some conditions, like hyperactivity or cerebral palsy, can be associated with bruxism.
- Medications and Substances: Certain medications or using substances can trigger teeth grinding.
Why is Pediatric Dentistry Important in Diagnosing Bruxism?
Early diagnosis is key! Regular dental check-ups allow pediatric dentists to notice the signs of teeth grinding. These can include:
- Worn-down teeth.
- Increased tooth sensitivity.
- Tired or tight jaw muscles.
- Evidence of chewed inner cheek areas.
A pediatric dentist can then advise on the best treatment options, from dental interventions to stress-relief techniques.
Potential Complications if Left Untreated
If bruxism goes unnoticed or untreated, it can lead to:
- Wear and tear of the enamel, leading to cavities.
- Facial pain or temporomandibular joint disorders.
- Disturbed sleep.
How Can You Help as a Parent?
- Stay Observant: Listen for grinding sounds when your child sleeps.
- Regular Dental Check-ups: This ensures early detection and management.
- Address Stress: If your child seems anxious, talk to them about their feelings or consider professional counseling.
- Night Guards: For severe cases, a dentist might recommend a custom-fitted night guard.
Let Our Napa Pediatric Dentist Help
At Alora Dentistry, we believe in comprehensive care. Understanding and addressing concerns like pediatric bruxism ensures the oral health of your child today and paves the way for a healthier future. If you have concerns about your child’s teeth grinding or any other dental issue, our doors in Napa are always open to assist you!