Bruxism, or teeth grinding, as it is more commonly known, can be a serious affliction in which the sufferer erodes the precious enamel that coats each tooth through constant grinding of the upper teeth against the lower teeth. It is common in children, and, while some may grind during the day, often it happens at night, which makes it more difficult for parents to figure out that there is a problem. Luckily, there are signs to watch out for to see if you child is a night grinder and things you can do to encourage your child to stop this enamel-destroying habit.
1. Know the signs
Sometimes night grinders will grind a little in the day, which is a nice little clue for parents; if you see your child grinding their teeth in the day time, there is a good chance they are grinding a lot more while asleep. The best way to find out is to check frequently at night to see if he or she is making grinding noises, or, if your child shares a room with a sibling, you could ask the sibling to listen out instead.
If you find that your child complains about feeling pain when chewing, or has a sore jaw, that could also be a sign of bruxism.
2. Figure out why it's happening
There are many psychological, physiological, and physical factors that may cause children to grind their teeth, though often it is caused by things like anxiety or a misaligned jaw. It can also occur as a reaction to certain medications. Often small children will brux when they are teething.
It's worth looking at your child's circumstances to see if there is anything going on that could contribute to the teeth grinding. Does your child seem particularly stressed? Are they taking any medications that could be exacerbating the problem? Tracking down the reason for the grinding will make it easier to make changes so that the problem will go away, though often kids simply outgrow the urge to grind.
3. Treat it
A great way to treat bruxism while you figure out the real root of the problem is through the use of a mouth guard, especially if your child is grinding to the point where his or her teeth are becoming severely affected (your family dentist will be able to tell you if this is the case). The mouth guard will be custom made to fit your child's mouth and it can be worn overnight to prevent grinding.