What Can You Do About Your Child’s Tooth Grinding?

If the sound of your child's teeth grinding together is driving you crazy, you probably aren't alone. The Journal of Dentistry for Children estimates that 38 percent of children grind their teeth, typically while sleeping, and it's a habit that could follow them into adulthood. Although grinding, or bruxism, is not a major concern while your child still has primary teeth, it can lead to tooth erosion and decay once his or her permanent teeth grow in. Fortunately, you should be able to identify and treat the cause of your child's bruxism and protect his or her teeth in the future.  

Understanding the Causes of Childhood Bruxism

Children begin to grind their teeth for a variety of reasons, but the key culprits may be linked to genetics and sleep or psychological disorders. The same Journal of Dentistry for Children study found that children with parents who suffered from bruxism were nearly twice as likely to grind their teeth themselves. Children with psychological disorders were almost four times as likely to develop bruxism, and it has been strongly linked to sleep apnea. For other children, bruxism is simply a natural response to falling asleep that disappears with time. Understanding which cause is behind your child's tooth grinding is essential to outlining an effective treatment plan.

Ruling Out Medication Side-Effects

If your child is currently taking a medication, his or her bruxism may simply be a side-effect. Antidepressants in particular have been shown to cause bruxism. Consult with your child's doctor whenever you are concerned about potential side-effects from his or her medication. You may be able to switch prescriptions to a medication that does not provoke tooth grinding, or tolerate the issue until treatment is finished. 

Checking for Underlying Conditions

Besides sleep apnea or a psychological condition, bruxism may also be a response to another medical problem such as tonsillitis or chronic ear infections. Teething toddlers may chew in their sleep to soothe their gums, or if they are anxious about changes in their routine. A developing malocclusion, or bite that does not line up properly, may also cause your child's teeth to grind in the night. If your family dentist cannot determine the cause of the bruxism, it may be necessary to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician to rule out medical or psychological influences. Bruxism often disappears on its own within a few years, but if it persists despite your best efforts, you may eventually need to look into orthodontics or behavior therapy to help correct the condition. For further assistance, contact a local dentist, such as one found through http://hcdentistryak.com/.