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What Are Jaw Clenching and Tooth Grinding?

Jaw clenching and teeth grinding are disorders that negatively impact your child’s dental health. They occur when your child unconsciously tightens their jaws and also grinds their teeth, exerting damaging pressure and friction on teeth.

These disorders derive from different sources and can severely damage your kids’ teeth. In clinical terms, the category for clenching and grinding teeth is “sleep bruxism.” But, unluckily, sometimes they might not be easily identified, and parents must be alert to act on time.

These disorders often occur at night while your kid is sleeping but, in some odd cases, might also occur during the daytime (awake bruxism). So, purportedly, we must first refer to the causes and consequences to define them accurately.

Causes for Bruxism

In general, bruxism is spontaneous and occurs unconsciously. The most prevalent cause is anxiety and stress, which triggers these annoying jaw movements. Furthermore, aside from teeth damage, bruxism is linked to DSM-defined depression and anxiety disorders.

Treating the causes of bruxism is crucial from a psychological standpoint to identify stressful situations and sleep disorders that could mentally affect your kid. For instance, a child is like a sponge that absorbs an immense amount of information that overwhelms its capacity to process.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers reported increased psychosocial distress that elevated the frequency of TMD symptoms and bruxism. The analysis defined a triangle in which the psychological and emotional status mutually interact with other factors.

Some other interacting factors or symptoms of teeth grinding include the following:

  • Misaligned teeth, abnormal bites;
  • Earache or teething soreness, and;
  • Medical conditions include hyperactivity or cerebral palsy.

How to Know if My Child Is Grinding Their Teeth at Night?

The bruxer hardly knows about what is going on. Considering this is not a child-exclusive condition when relatives or spouses describe seeing a relative grinding, biting hard, and making noises, most of the time, they don’t recall doing it.

So, starting from adults not knowing what they do at night about bruxism, dealing with a child might be troublesome. We recommend dedicating time to watch out for your child while sleeping and noticing strange jaw movements and teeth abruptly hitting each other.

Also, you might need to observe the following events:

  • When your child complaints of a sore face or jaw pain and;
  • Pain when chewing.

Parallel to specialists’ observations, you can start working with a calming bedtime routine.

What Are the Adverse Effects of Clenching and Tooth Grinding?

After observing your kid presenting bruxism symptoms, take your child to the dentist. The professional will observe enamel wear off and chipped portion of teeth. A dentist uses several techniques to identify increased sensitivity, like spraying water and air into affected areas.

Also, after looking at the bite pattern, the dentist can spot areas of concern and deepen the analysis to see if a tooth has damage that could result in cracking due to severe bruxism.

How to Solve Tooth Grinding at Night?

After a dentist has diagnosed bruxism and classified a possible level of damage, Dr. Surillo might recommend a custom-fit night mouth guard based on the mold of your kid’s teeth. A bite guard helps absorb the impact of hard clenching and prevents further premature wear for mild bruxism.

However, depending on the severity of the case, Dr. Surillo might ask some questions and request an X-ray or CT scan to help him diagnose a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD).

A TMJD is a condition that involves the jaw joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. For example, chronic bruxism might overwork the joint, producing wear downing the joint’s disc or moving it out of its place.

Also, the excessive pressure and movements might misalign teeth occlusion affecting the chewing jaw muscles. In these cases, your kid might present one or a few of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches or pain in the jaw. Pain might also appear in the neck or facial muscles;
  • Discomfort at bitting or chewing food;
  • Clicks when opening and closing the mouth and;
  • On occasions, the jaw could lock open or shut.

Kid patients presenting these symptoms might require a comprehensive approach that includes muscle relaxants, bruxism treatment, TMD treatment, and relaxation techniques. In addition, the diagnosis might reveal the need for surgery in the most severe cases.

Anticipation in Children Is Key for a Better Life Quality

Do not hesitate to visit Dr. Surillos’s office in San Diego, CA, for a comprehensive evaluation of your kid’s dental condition. As a San Diego Pediatric dentist, Dr. Surillo has specialized training in treating various children’s dental problems. He is also qualified to care for patients with medical, physical, or mental disabilities.

Schedule an appointment at Children’s Braces and Dentistry; Dr. Surillo and our warmhearted staff will do their best to combine a caring and even fun environment for your child to make the dental visit a fantastic journey.