As a parent, it’s natural to become concerned when your child exhibits any new or unfamiliar behaviors. Teeth grinding, also referred to as bruxism, is a common habit in children, and while the causes are not always entirely clear it typically isn’t a cause for alarm. Here, leading children’s dentist Dr. Chris Coplin of Alaska Dentistry for Kids in Anchorage explores the topic of bruxism in greater detail.
In some instances, children will grind their teeth during the daytime, but bruxism typically occurs at night. If your child grinds their teeth while awake, it’s likely a habit they’ve developed subconsciously as a result of deep concentration or stressful situations. Because repetitive grinding could damage teeth over a prolonged period of time, it’s a good idea to encourage your child to avoid this behavior if possible.
On the other hand, it can be more difficult to address teeth grinding when it occurs at night. Sleep bruxism can develop as early as one year of age in children whose neuromuscular systems are not yet developed. It commonly occurs under the age of 11 and often takes place as children shift from deep sleep to a lighter stage of slumber.
Children’s dentists and pediatricians have speculated on the causes of teeth grinding for many years, but the specific reason isn’t always identifiable. Sometimes the behavior is credited to an upper airway obstruction, such as enlarged tonsils. If you suspect that your child could be having difficulty breathing at night, be sure to schedule an appointment with their pediatrician to address the matter.
Unless your child has headaches, difficulty sleeping, tooth pain or wear, or the grinding is a result of a more serious health condition, it’s likely just a harmless passing phase. Most children grow out of bruxism, and in the meantime your kids’ dental care professional can keep an eye out for any signs of dental concerns.
If you’d like the dentist to take examine your child for any signs of tooth wear as a result of grinding, feel free to schedule their next exam and cleaning at Alaska Dentistry for Kids by calling (907) 274-2525. You can also learn more about the children’s dentist by visiting their website.