“The daily grind.” It’s a phrase we often hear uttered by adults; a simple and powerful message about the day to day life many leads. There is another connotation that may be made by this term, though, and it pertains to the mouth. Perhaps a better way to explain the issue of bruxism would be as a “nightly grind.” This common issue is not reserved only for adults; parents may be alarmed when they walk in to admire their sleeping child only to hear the gnashing of tiny teeth!
Let’s Look at Bruxism
Bruxism is the dental term for grinding or clenching teeth. According to one study, approximately 38% of children under the age of 18 clenches and grind either during the day or at night while they sleep. That’s a lot of damage taking place! What is more concerning about bruxism is that it is often a hidden habit. Even those who do this on a daily basis may not be aware of it, and that makes it difficult to resolve the issue. Make no mistake, though; this is an issue that needs to be resolved. Otherwise, long-term consequences may arise.
Why We Do It
There are some underlying reasons why any person may grind or clench. In fact, there are many cases in which the habit itself has been identified, but no underlying cause found. One of the ways that bruxism may originate includes misalignment that inhibits the upper and lower jaw from meeting appropriately. Another potential reason for pediatric bruxism is the eruption of a new tooth. This often causes ear pain, and incites a bout of clenching and grinding at night. Finally, a large percentage of bruxism cases, in both children and adults, is stress.
Why Bruxism Must Stop
Bruxism can be a damaging habit that ultimately leads to chronic inflammation in the joints, muscles, and ligaments in the jaw. The daily stress placed on these structures can impede function and lead to TMJ disorder, which presents some unpleasant symptoms. Grinding may damage teeth, as well, causing erosion or chipping.
If you suspect that your child may clench or grind her teeth. Schedule a full dental exam. Sometimes, the problem can be mitigated just by wearing a protective night-guard (like a sports mouth guard) during sleep.
Do you have questions about dental care for your child? Contact one of our friendly pediatric dentistry offices in the Dallas – Fort Worth or Houston area.