In Hendricks County tonight, thousands of children will sleep peacefully. Nothing is more precious than watching and listening to your child sleep – breathing easily while occasionally sighing. But if you hear sounds of gnashing and grinding, it can be a bit disconcerting.
If your child is grinding their teeth or clenching their jaws during their sleep, they may have bruxism. It is fairly common in children under 5 years old. Experts say about 38 percent of children grind or clench their teeth during sleep, according to a study published in the Journal of Dentistry for Children. Most kids will stop grinding their teeth before they’re 13 years old. But the average age is 6 years once their six-year permanent molars come in. However, people of all ages can grind their teeth.

Causes of Bruxism

While no one knows for sure what causes it, possible reasons include:

  • Malocclusion – the top and bottom teeth aren’t properly aligned
  • Problems with the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects the top and bottom of the jaw
  • Stress due to nervous tension, frustration, anger, or changes in routine at home or school
  • Pain due to an earache or teething
  • Hyperactivity
  • Allergies
  • Heredity
  • Drooling or talking during sleep
  • Certain medical conditions like cerebral palsy


Effects of Bruxism

In general, teeth grinding isn’t harmful. However, sometimes, it can cause the enamel on the teeth to wear down, a tooth to become chipped, increased temperature sensitivity, headaches, daytime sleepiness and crankiness, and severe facial pain and jaw problems like temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ).

What Can You Do?

Some things you can do to help your child are:

  • Take note if your child complains of pain in the face or jaw during the day. This can be the result of teeth grinding.
  • Make an appointment with Dr. Erickson at Danville Family Dentistry in Hendricks County. Dr. Erickson can check to see if your child’s teeth are lining up properly. If there is an issue, he may be able to polish them so they fit together better. If the grinding is causing any damage to your child’s teeth, he may prescribe a mouth guard, a plastic device fitted to your child’s mouth that he/she will need to wear when they sleep.
  • Watch for changes in your child’s behavior, like moodiness, clinginess, changes in appetite or other sleep problems. If you see any symptoms, try to determine the cause and eliminate any triggers.
  • Talk to your child if they’re stressed or nervous and try to calm and reassure them.
  • Consider giving your child the proper dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen if he/she is teething or has an ear infection.
  • Have infants chew on a cool teething ring.
  • Establish a soothing bedtime routine like a warm bath, snuggling or a story before bed.

By closely observing your child at home and taking steps to reduce stress, you will be able to manage your child’s bruxism. And don’t forget to bring your child to see Dr. Erickson at his Hendricks County office for regular dental visits, too.