Pediatric Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

A young girl in a black shirt holding her head in pain from a headache

At Novato Children's Dentistry, we understand the concerns parents have when they discover their child may be grinding their teeth at night.

Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding, is a condition that can have significant implications on a child's dental health, and understanding it is key to effective management and treatment.

Bruxism often occurs unconsciously, and it can happen during the day or night. In children, it might be related to the discomfort of growing teeth and jaws, stress, or other medical conditions.

Understanding bruxism is a crucial step towards safeguarding your child's dental wellbeing and ensuring their long-term oral health.

Does Your Child Grind His/Her Teeth At Night? (Bruxism)

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 or Dr. DeSimini 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 is 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 or Dr. DeSimini at your child’s next dental visit. 

Understanding Pediatric Bruxism

Bruxism often occurs during sleep and can be difficult to detect. It can lead to tooth wear, increased tooth sensitivity, and discomfort in the jaw muscles. In some cases, it may also contribute to headaches and disruptions in sleep. While the exact causes of bruxism can vary, factors such as stress, dental misalignment, and certain sleep disorders can play a role.

Signs of Bruxism in Children

  • Grinding noises heard during the night
  • Complaints of jaw pain or headaches in the morning
  • Wear and tear on teeth visible during dental exams
  • Increased tooth sensitivity

Our Approach to Managing Bruxism

Comprehensive Evaluation: Our first step is to conduct a thorough examination of your child's teeth and jaw to assess the extent of wear due to bruxism and to identify possible underlying causes.

Customized Treatment Plans: Depending on the severity and underlying causes of your child's bruxism, we may recommend various treatment options, including:

  • Custom Night Guards: Similar to mouth guards used in sports, these custom-fitted devices are worn at night to protect the teeth from grinding and clenching.
  • Stress Management: For children whose bruxism may be linked to stress, we offer guidance on relaxation techniques and other strategies to help manage stress.
  • Dental Correction: If misalignment of the teeth is contributing to bruxism, orthodontic treatment may be recommended.
  • Education and Support: We provide parents and children with education on bruxism, including tips for at-home care and strategies to minimize teeth grinding.

Why Choose Novato Children's Dentistry for Bruxism Treatment?

  1. Specialized Pediatric Care: Our team specializes in pediatric dentistry, offering tailored treatments and a deep understanding of the unique dental needs of children.
  2. Family-Centered Approach: We believe in involving parents in the treatment process, offering support and guidance to ensure the best outcomes for your child.
  3. State-of-the-Art Solutions: From custom night guards to the latest in orthodontic treatments, we utilize advanced techniques and materials to address bruxism effectively.

Schedule Your Child's Consultation

If you suspect your child may be suffering from bruxism, or if you've noticed any signs of teeth grinding, Novato Children's Dentistry is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We're committed to providing compassionate, comprehensive care to protect your child's smile and ensure their long-term oral health.