ZocdocAnswersHow can I help my child stop grinding his teeth?

Question

How can I help my child stop grinding his teeth?

I noticed that my son grinds his teeth when he sleeps. It happens quite often. I believe this can cause teeth damage. Is there a way to stop this problem?

Answer

I recommend that you discuss this with a dentist. From time to time everyone grinds their teeth during waking or, more commonly, during sleeping hours. Children commonly grind their teeth and about 15 to 30% of children experience frequent tooth grinding, called bruxism in medical terms. No one knows exactly why this occurs, but there are theories that implicate things like abnormalities in jaw or tooth alignment, psychological factors like anxiety and stress, medications (particularly those used for ADHD), and even nutritional factors like caffeine intake and nutritional deficiencies. Tooth grinding in children typically occurs while they are asleep and peaks at two times in a child's life. The first peak occurs just after teething as the baby teeth emerge, however grinding of baby teeth rarely results in dental problems. The second peak occurs as the adult teeth emerge. Children tend to lose this habit after the teeth fully emerge and their bite adjusts to the new dentition. However, persistent grinding of adult teeth can lead to dental problems over time, so it is an important issue to address with a dentist if it does not resolve. If your son is frequently grinding his adult teeth at night, you should schedule an appointment with the dentist. A dentist can examine your son's teeth for signs of wear and tear due to grinding and can evaluate your son's medical and dental history to determine if there are factors that may be contributing to his tooth grinding. It is important to visit the dentist because if there are signs of wear and tear on your sons teeth or jaw due to grinding, treatment may be required (such as a tooth guard to be worn at night). In the meantime, here are some safe and simple tips that may help minimize your child's tooth grinding overnight: Decrease your child's stress (especially at bedtime), maintain a healthy diet with plenty of water and minimal or no caffeine, you can also try massage and stretching exercises of your child's jaw muscles at bedtime.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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