The medical term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching is “bruxism;” and if someone grinds their teeth, they “brux.” There are various causes of teeth grinding, some much more common than others. People of all ages brux, and there are various problems that occur as a result of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Below, find out more about bruxism, including information about children who brux.
Complications Caused by Bruxism
Grinding and clenching of the teeth usually occurs while a person is sleeping, and the behavior can cause many different problems over time. Bruxism can cause teeth to become sensitive when teeth brushing, eating, and drinking. Eventually, tooth enamel can wear down because of nighttime teeth grinding. Chipping of teeth, jaw muscle pain, and damage to restorative dental work can all occur as a result of bruxism. Those who brux can also experience painful temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
Many people are completely unaware that they are jaw-clenching or grinding their teeth at night. Studies show that stress and anxiety are the primary causes of bruxism. A person who is anxious and stressed during the day is more likely to grind or clench their teeth while sleeping.
People with undiagnosed sleep apnea commonly grind their teeth. Sleep apnea is sometimes the cause of bruxism, especially in cases where the individual is unaware that they have irregular or paused breathing during their sleep. A dentist may or may not find that a person’s night grinding due to sleep apnea is severe enough to require a night guard. A proper sleep study is recommended before prescribing that a night guard be worn, to avoid worsening the sleep apnea.
Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism
A person’s partner may be the first ones to identify that they bruxism, due to grinding sounds made at night. There are many other possible signs and symptoms of teeth grinding, including the following:
- The jaw muscles, face, or neck hurt and/or feel sore or tight
- Frequent headaches first thing in the morning
- Teeth have a chipped, flattened, or worn-down appearance
- Crowns, fillings, and other types of restorative dental work begin to break down
- Damage caused by chewing the inside of your cheek
- An earache that’s not actually caused by an ear problem
Children with Bruxism
It is very common for children to have bruxism. It is estimated that, among children up to age 11, one in five children have nighttime bruxism. The number is probably higher, however, because many parents are unaware that their child has the condition. Among children who brux, factors associated with the condition include anxiety, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other uncommon behaviors associated with oral structures.
A parent should watch for the following signs to determine whether their child has bruxism:
- You can hear grinding noises when the child sleeps
- The child complains of a sore face or jaw upon waking up
- Chewing is painful
In addition to seeing a dentist about getting a night guard, parents can help by engaging the child in relaxing activities before bedtime, such as reading a book or listening to soothing music. In some cases, when a child is under stress, it’s advisable to consult with a doctor to determine if additional help is needed for psychological issues.
How to Prevent Damage Caused by Teeth Grinding
Using a custom-made mouth guard each night is the best way to prevent damage and discomfort caused by teeth grinding.
Visit Woodbridge Kids Dentistry & Orthodontics
If you believe your child may have bruxism, contact us at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry & Orthodontics. We cater to kids and teens. Our kid-friendly services include fillings, orthodontics, Invisalign for teens, preventative care, and general dentistry. Call us today at (905) 264-1KID (1543) to make an appointment.