Bruxism is the formal name for the grinding of the teeth, particularly at night. If you’re reading this you may be curious about bruxism and how specifically you can help your child.

Bruxism (Grinding the Teeth)

Minor bruxism can be relatively harmless and may not require you to do  anything. Most young children (2 to 6 year-olds) have harmless clenching and grinding habits that they eventually outgrow.  Even though the noise will drive you crazy, they are not causing any major damage.

If your toddler is grinding or clenching their teeth it may make things worse to draw attention to their habit.  Waking them won’t make them stop, but repositioning the way that they sleep may help.  Turning them on their side or tummy may help to separate their teeth so that they won’t grind.

Older children (7 to 12 year-olds) who grind sporadically often do so in response to specific stressors or excitement.  Again, this age group rarely does any major damage — even though they may have some adult teeth.

Often the best thing to do is to wait it out to see how your child develops.

Pre-teens and teens who have more intense teeth grinding, however, can have issues such as:

  • Headaches
  • Jaw disorders and pain
  • Jaw muscles that feel tight, sore, or tired
  • Damage to temporomandibular joints (TMJs) (which can sound like clicking when opening and closing the jaw)
  • Wearing away tooth enamel 

Bruxism Mouth Guards

Your pediatric dentist will help to decide if a mouthguard is helpful for your teenager.  Consistent growth makes it difficult to make a mouthguard for children because they may still have some baby teeth that won’t be around for much longer.

Teenagers who have stopped growing benefit more from bruxism mouthguards. 

Your child’s mouthguard will be specifically made to fit their teeth.  Although it takes a while to get used to wearing it at night, a mouthguard is beneficial to help stop the wear of the enamel.  There are some situations where other modalities are best for your teenager.  Your pediatric dentist will help you to decide.

Call or email us if you have any other questions.