Bruxism is the grinding of teeth or clenching of the jaws that often occurs during sleep.
About 2 to 3 children out of 10 experience bruxism.
Symptoms of Bruxism
The first indication is the distinct noise created by the child grinding on his/her teeth during sleep. Other symptoms include tooth wear and shortening to the dentition. Luckily, most kids outgrow bruxism and rarely does it require any treatment.
Grinding will decrease between the ages of 6-9, and adolescents tend to stop by ages 9-12.
What causes it?
One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing, when people are chewing gum, etc. to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.
The majority of causes of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment.
If there is excessive wear of the permanent teeth (attrition), then a night mouth guard may be the solutions. The mouth guard will prevent wear to primary teeth development and dentition.
If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.