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Bruxism: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

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Bruxism is the medical term for the grinding of teeth or the clenching of jaws among children. Experts say that two to three out of 10 children grind or clench, but most outgrow it. Bruxism often occurs during deep sleep or while under stress.

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Causes of Bruxism


Teeth to Teeth


However, many studies have been done on the causes of Bruxism but no one knows why it happens. In some cases though, kids may grind because the top and bottom teeth aren’t aligned properly. Others might do it as a natural response to pain, such as an earache or teething. Kids might grind their teeth and clench their jaws as a reflex and as a way to ease the pain, just as they might rub a sore muscle. Most kids outgrow these with time.




Nervous tension or anger is usually another cause for bruxism. A child might worry about a test at school, a bully in class or even quarrels amongst parents or with siblings or friends. This causes enough stress to prompt teeth grinding or jaw clenching. Being hyperactive can also cause bruxism. In addition, sometimes it is seen that kids with medical conditions such as cerebral palsy or children that are on certain medications can develop bruxism.


See a doctor if:


Constant grinding and clenching occurs when a child is nervous, stressed or sleeping or when you notice hypertension or erratic behavior.


Treating Bruxism


As experts have pointed out, most kids outgrow bruxism, but a combination of parental observation and dental visits can help keep the problem in check until they do outgrow it. A careful diagnosis is important in order to find a solution for this problem if it poses a future threat. There have been certain cases of bruxism where the grinding and clenching of teeth and jaw can make a child’s face and jaw sore or damage the teeth permanently. Sometimes bruxism may even deform facial bones. Dentists may prescribe a special night guard. It is similar to a mouth piece that is molded to a child’s teeth; it works as a protective shield which is similar to the ones worn by boxers.

Even though a mouthpiece may take some time getting used to, positive results occur rapidly.



Need Help?


Whether the cause is physical or psychological, parents need to help their children by making them as much comfortable as possible. Kids may be able to control bruxism by practicing relaxation before bedtime. Taking a warm bath or shower, listening to a few minutes of soothing music, or reading their favorite book or watching their favorite cartoon show, etc. c could help them take their mind off things that cause clenching and grinding.


For bruxism that is triggered by stress, you need to know what’s upsetting your child and find a way to help him. For instance, a child who is worried about exams, a new teacher or being away from home for his first camping trip might need reassurance from the parents.

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In many cases, it has been found that moving to a new town is a major concern for many children suffering from bruxism and this can only be prevented by discussing your child’s concerns and trying to ease any fears or complexities. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor.


In rare cases, basic stress relievers don’t really work to stop bruxism. If your child has trouble sleeping or is behaving different from usual, your dentist or doctor may suggest further evaluation. This will help determine the cause of the stress and the most appropriate course of treatment.