frequently asked questions

Do you hear grinding of your child's teeth at night?


Bruxism is a common dental problemBruxism is the grinding or clenching of teeth, most often at night. Teeth grinding isn't something most people are aware they are doing. Most parents only become aware that their child is a "bruxer" when their dentist notices signs of tooth wear, fracture of part of a tooth or filling, or damage to the jaw joint (TMJ Joint) caused by the disorder. As many as 80-90 % of young children brux their teeth at night, girls often brux more than boys. Children usually grow out of this bruxing problem by age ten without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. Bruxism in young children does not mean that damage is occurring to his/her teeth or that dental problems will occur later in life.

Nocturnal teeth grinding (bruxism) is one of the most common sleep disorders in America. Thirty to forty million Americans brux on a nightly basis. The exact reason for nighttime grinding is not clear, but possible reasons for childhood bruxing include genetics, stress, allergy, ear infection, or growing pains. The only directly related cause known for bruxing is that children with a combination of allergies and severely restricted airways will brux.

If your child has baby teeth, we usually do not recommend any treatment for bruxism because all the primary teeth will fall out over the course of dental development. There is also the concern of a nightguard coming loose and a young child possibly choking on the dislodged nightguard. There is also the cost of replacement of a nightguard as new teeth come into a child's mouth causing the previous nightguard to not fit. As your child develops a permanent dentition, we will monitor his/her changes and recommend a nightguard if needed when the dentition is more stable.

Nightguard as therapy for bruxismAs your child gets older, and the permanent teeth erupt, we may recommend a treatment to prevent further damage to the new teeth. In this case, the most common treatment is a custom made nightguard to wear at night. The appliance may need to be changed regularly to accommodate for the changing teeth in children and young adults. Other options include monitoring or referral to a specialist.



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