The technical term for teeth grinding and the sounds of gnashing teeth is bruxism. It is a natural habit for babies to initially grind their teeth, typically while they are at sleep. Therefore, if you hear teeth grinding noises you should not be overly concerned.
However teeth grinding should stop when all milk teeth have erupted. If your child still grinds during the night at the age of five or older we recommend to see your dentist.
Opinion is still divided amongst pediatric dentists about why bruxism happens. However, the most popular causes are outlined below:
Pain - In many cases it is a sub-concious response to pain such as ear or toothache / teething
Mis-aligned teeth- it could simply because the top and bottom teeth are not yet aligned properly.
Stress - Frequently bruxism can also be caused by stress such as changes in the domestic environment or school related problems. (e.g. new school test, a new school teacher, bullying, arguing with parents, a new sibling etc). A relaxed calm evening routine and discussing daily problems with your child can help to reduce the grinding in these cases.
Hyperactive children - also may show signs of teeth grinding
Other medical conditions - there are also some medical conditions (e.g. cerebral palsy) or medications that can increase the chances of your child having bruxism.
In general bruxism should stop during puberty, if not then a night guard is needed to prevent teeth getting worn down.
Excessive teeth grinding can actually wear down or even fracture the teeth. Excessive clenching of the teeth also puts extra pressure on the muscles and tissue around the jaw.
This main symptons that can occur which may need further investigation (please do not hesitate to contact us for advice) include:
Other symptoms to look out for include ear ache, depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
Please note many children may grind their teeth without any of the symptons above.
In general bruxism should stop during puberty, if not then a night guard is needed to prevent teeth getting worn down. The night guard is similar to the protective mouthpieces worn by athletes and is moulded to your child's teeth.
Nightguards may take some time for your child to get used to, but you should see improvements fairly quickly if they are used as prescribed.
To speak to an expert about child teeth grinding or to make a booking, please call our award-winning children's dental team on 020 8831 6870.