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How to Help a Child Grinding Their Teeth While They Sleep

child sleeping with teddy bear

Stress or anxiety can cause any of us to grind our teeth completely subconsciously, even while we sleep. The issue, called Bruxism, might also be due to poor tooth alignment or a condition like sleep apnea.

According to the American Sleep Association, up to 15% of children deal with this issue, which is 5% more than adults! If you notice your child grinding their teeth, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm or panic. However, bruxism shouldn’t be ignored and requires your attention.

We asked Dr. Ben Salar here at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental in Reno about his thoughts on how to stop a child from grinding their teeth. Here’s his advice:

Identifying the Cause

To treat the issue of teeth grinding, it’s best to identify the root cause. There are several possible reasons why your child could be grinding their teeth during the night:

  • Stress: Your child may not have a healthy outlet for the stress in their life, and that stress could be making it out through their jaw. Although stress and teeth grinding may seem unrelated, it’s actually the most common known cause of bruxism in both children and adults.
  • Misaligned teeth or jaw: Everyone’s teeth come in a bit differently, and sometimes the jaw isn’t resting in the right place. Teeth grinding is more likely in those cases.
  • Side effects from medication: Some antidepressants have been reported to have teeth grinding as a side effect. If you notice your child grinding their teeth while they are taking medication, be sure to mention this to the prescribing doctor.

Also, there’s the possibility that you won’t be able to pinpoint the exact reason for your child’s bruxism. If this is the case, don’t worry! This is not uncommon. It’s still possible to help stop a child from grinding their teeth even without knowing the root cause.

Taking the Proper Steps

little boy smiling

Once you’ve identified that your child has a problem with teeth grinding during sleep, it’s time to take preventative steps to help reduce the risk of long term damage to their teeth.

Reduce Your Child’s Stress Levels

Most parents aren’t aware if their child is stressed out because many childhood stressors take place at school or away from a parent’s watchful eye. Don’t simply write off the need for stress reduction simply because your kid doesn’t seem stressed, or that their stress seems normal for a kid their age.

You can help your child stop grinding their teeth by encouraging physical exercise to give them a healthy outlet to alleviate stress. Consider signing them up for a school sport, exercise class, or local rec league. An after-school tutor might help if they are struggling with academic pressures. Most of all, open lines of communication with your child and allow them to share their feelings with you.

Get Fitted for a Mouthpiece

When you first notice your child grinding their teeth at night, it’s important to schedule a consultation with their pediatric dentist. They’ll be able to take pediatric x-rays and monitor their condition over the long term. If bruxism continues or worsens over time, they may recommend a special mouthpiece to help your child stop grinding their teeth while they sleep. These mouthguards are designed to keep their teeth from grinding together and wearing away their enamel.

Visit the Orthodontist

If your child is grinding their teeth due to a misalignment of the teeth or gums, orthodontic treatment will be prudent. It’s possible your child will need braces or another device to encourage proper alignment. As the teeth and jaw shift into their proper positions, the child will stop grinding their teeth.

Visit Toothfairy Pediatric Dental of Reno

The best way to ensure your child stops their teeth from grinding is to have them under the care of both a pediatric dentist and orthodontist. If you live in the Reno area, you can find both dental experts under one roof when you visit Toothfairy Pediatric Dental. Each of our six convenient offices provides a full spectrum of treatments to help your child stop grinding their teeth. We accept most forms of dental insurance, including Medicaid. If your child needs any type of oral care, we’re here to help!

Contact our office today to schedule your consultation. We have family-friendly appointment times available, including Saturdays!