Teeth grinding is an involuntary habit that causes destructive consequences to the teeth and also affects other facial structures. Teeth grinding can affect individuals of any age, and it’s not uncommon to start noticing signs of teeth grinding in teenagers. You may be made aware of your child’s teeth grinding habit in different ways, whether your child’s dentist notices signs of damage or by catching your teen mid-clench during a stressful situation.
The first step in helping your teen manage their teeth grinding habit and prevent permanent damage is determining the cause.
Possible Reasons For Teeth Grinding
Stress and Anxiety.
The most common cause of teeth grinding in children is stress and anxiety. A constantly stressed teen who is often put in a stressful state manifests their stress during sleep. The over-activity of the muscles in the jaw causes unintentional clenching and grinding of the teeth.
Sleeping disorders, like sleep apnea, are often associated with teeth grinding in patients. Studies have shown that those who suffer from various types of sleep disorders are at a higher risk of developing the habit of teeth grinding.
Side Effects of Certain Medications.
Teeth grinding is a known side effect of medications for psychotropic drugs, including antidepressants and antipsychotics. Teeth grinding can also be one of the side effects of a digestive issue.
When a child loses a permanent tooth or is missing permanent teeth, migration of the teeth changes the way a person bites down. This causes an uneven alignment that can worsen with time. An uneven bite destabilizes the occlusion of the jaw, bringing considerable stress that causes one to grind their teeth.
Long-Term Side Effects of Bruxism
Long-term effects of grinding your teeth come when the short-term effects are not given remedies. Patients with severe Bruxism can have symptoms that continue to progress without proper treatment, including:
- Frequent Migraines
- Facial muscles that are taut and tight around the jaw area
- Popping or clicking of the jaw
- Tooth loss
- Excessive tooth wear
Putting a Stop To Teeth Grinding For Kids and Teens
If you think your child is grinding their teeth, the first step is to see a trusted dentist or orthodontist. A trained professional will check for signs and symptoms of grinding during an exam and look for typical wear spots on the teeth. If diagnosed by a dentist, they will likely recommend orthodontic treatment to align your child’s teeth.
Your child’s dentist or orthodontist may also recommend a mouthguard made of soft molded plastic to help protect an older child’s teeth from the effects of grinding, especially if they have already had braces. While a mouthguard will help reduce the effects of teeth grinding, it won’t stop the habit. If your child is grinding their teeth due to stress or anxiety, they may find counseling or stress management helpful in treating the underlying cause behind Bruxism.
When to See a Professional
Teeth grinding can lead to various symptoms, including facial pain, headaches, and abnormal tooth wear. If your child is complaining of any of these symptoms, we recommend scheduling an exam for them as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage.
Possible symptoms of teeth grinding in kids and teens include:
- Facial muscle pain
- Tightness and stiffness in the shoulders
- Pain and stiffness in the jaw joint
- Disruption of sleep for either you or your partner
- Worn teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Tooth loss
- Gum inflammation or receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty opening your mouth
Thomas Orthodontics is here to help you work through the possible causes of why your child may be grinding their teeth. A treatment plan can be established after a consultation appointment, and together, we can help keep your teen’s teeth healthy and damage-free.