It is not uncommon and in fact many children will at some point in their development experience grinding their teeth while they sleep. Most parents will report an extreme noise created by the child grinding their teeth at night or notice wear/shortening of their child’ enamel and be concerned of damage to their teeth. Bruxism can be due to psychological and/or physical components. Psychologically, stress due to new environments, schedules, divorce, changes at school, friendships, workload, etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Physically, bruxism may be a result of sleep apnea. Upon evaluation, Dr. Espinosa may refer your child to an ENT specialist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) for imaging and evaluation to assess for sleep apnea. The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be indicated, but are also limited based on the age and teeth/jaw development of the child.
The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, feel free to discuss with Dr. Espinosa at your child’s next dental visit.