It may not happen nightly, but every so often parents say they’ll hear their child gritting their teeth in the middle of the night. When this happens, they have two questions: Is it normal for children to grind their teeth? And, will the grinding eventually harm their teeth?
While the sound of it is alarming, teeth grinding (medically known as bruxism) is a common habit among children. It involves an involuntary grinding, clenching or rubbing of the teeth together, either during the day or during night sleep.
Nighttime Teeth Grinding in Children
While certain medications or conditions could be factors, it’s believed most teeth grinding arises from the immaturity of the part of the neuromuscular system that controls chewing. It’s believed to trigger a night episode as the child moves from deeper to lighter stages of sleep toward waking. Older children and adults typically handle these sudden shifts without incident, but a young child’s under-developed chewing response may react with grinding.
When Teeth Become at Risk for Harm From Teeth Grinding
If a child’s teeth are normal and healthy, teeth-grinding typically won’t create any lasting damage. But because grinding does generate pressures greater than the teeth normally encounter, it can be harmful to decayed teeth or those with enamel erosion due to high acid from consumption of sports and soda drinks. And it’s also a cause for concern if the habit continues into later childhood or adolescence, because prolonged grinding could cause a TMJ disorder and/or headaches and migraines.
To avoid these problems, it’s best to keep your child’s teeth as healthy as possible by practicing daily brushing and flossing, and regularly seeing me for cleanings, treatments and preventive measures like topical fluoride or sealants. And be sure to limit sugar and acidic foods and drinks in their diet to protect against decay and erosion.
Most importantly, let us know if your child grinds their teeth. Keeping an eye on this potentially harmful habit will help lead to appropriate actions when the time comes.
About Pasadena Pain Management
Pasadena Pain Management in Pasadena CA offers pain management treatment for TMJ/TMD, migraine, headaches and neck pain caused by dental imbalances. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.