Teeth Grinding in Children

Teeth Grinding in Children

As parents, you might have faced concerns over your child grinding the teeth every once in a while. Teeth grinding in children can be a normal response to jaw growth, and will usually resolve on its own over time.

However, in certain cases, it can indicate more serious problems with your child’s dentition and airway. To identify if your child grinds the teeth, usually the first indication to look for is the teeth grinding noise created by the kid during sleep. You may also notice the teeth of your child getting shorter over time.

To arrive at a more conclusive diagnosis, you should have your child assessed by a dentist. In some situations, an assessment by an inter-disciplinary team of doctors may also be required.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

  • Stress in a new environment, at home, or at school
  • When children experience inner ear pressure changes
  • Unstable bite during teeth eruption and resultant uncomfortably placed permanent teeth. Therefore, the grinding may be simply the jaw trying to find a comfortable position
  • Snoring and/or breathing through the mouth. Suggesting a connection between sleep bruxism (grinding) and upper airway obstruction, causing obstructive sleep apnea
  • Enlarged tonsils, strongly linked to upper airway obstruction. Removing the tonsils and adenoids can lessen teeth grinding in some children
  • Tongue ties, contributing to lack of natural palatal expansion constricting nasal passages, triggering the grinding, as the child moves the jaw in an attempt to open the airway and become more oxygenated
  • Intake of antidepressants and amphetamines (used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD) by children and teenagers

Treatment Options

Many children may not even require any treatment. Children usually outgrow grinding their teeth between the ages of 9 and 12. If, however, other signs and symptoms are observed such as upper airway obstruction, chronic snoring, enlarged adenoids, or wear of permanent teeth, further evaluation is necessary. At that point, an appropriate referral must be made to the ENT or a pulmonology clinic, to ensure the child receives necessary and appropriate care.

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