Teeth Grinding in Kids: Debunking the Most Common Myths

In a nutshell, bruxism is excessive jaw clenching or teeth grinding. There are two primary types of bruxism: nocturnal bruxism (one that occurs during sleep) and awake bruxism (one that occurs while the patient is awake). Since dental damage can occur in both types, finding bruxism treatment is recommended. 

Contrary to popular belief, bruxism is a condition that also affects children and not adults alone. In most cases however, teeth grinding disappears as soon as they lose their baby teeth so bruxism treatment is often not needed. 

Bruxism in Kids: Common Myths and the Truths Behind Them

Since teeth grinding is not really common among children, it is not surprising that there are many myths surrounding it. Below are some of the most prevalent misconceptions about teeth grinding in children and the truth behind them:

Only children will develop bruxism

There’s definitely no truth to this. While many children grind their teeth during sleep, most will eventually outgrow the condition. However, if you as a parent would want to play it safe, it is recommended that you visit the dentist to get expert advice. 

While bruxism is common among children, it is also prevalent among adults regardless of age or gender. Oftentimes, bruxism in adults is considered far more serious and would merit immediate medical attention. 

Bruxism is nothing more than a physical condition

This is one of the most common misconceptions about the condition many people unfortunately believe. While several physical factors can contribute to the development of the condition (i.e. missing teeth, overbite, medical conditions like sleep apnea, etc.), the emotions can also play a role in the development of the condition.

While unknown to many, emotional triggers like stress, anxiety, and other mood disorders can also lead to bruxism. When caused by emotional triggers, activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction may be recommended. 

Bruxism is not a cause for concern

While occasional teeth grinding can be harmless, severe cases can have a significant and long-term effect to the child’s long-term health. Left unattended, bruxism can wear the teeth down and may even cause some of them to eventually fall out. And that’s just for starters.

When the teeth are worn down, it can make them more vulnerable to loss of bone as well as bacterial infections. In some cases, severe bruxism that’s left untreated can also cause misaligned teeth as well as problems in terms of opening and closing the jaw. Some patients also develop hearing problems secondary to bruxism.

Bruxism cannot be treated

If truth be told, there are several treatment options available for bruxism that are designed to reduce the symptoms and minimise the damage. However, bruxism is not something you should take on on your own without the help of your dentist or other medical professionals.

Depending on the severity of the condition, your dentist will be able to provide the best treatment recommendations for your case. Some of the treatment options for bruxism include mouth guards and splints, biofeedback, anxiety or stress management, muscle relaxants, etc. 

Bruxism will only cause significant damage to the teeth

Damage caused by bruxism is not limited to the teeth alone. Without proper treatment, bruxism can also affect the bite alignment as well as the functioning of the jaw. However, that’s not all. 

Bruxism in adults that’s left untreated can lead to other medical complications such as damage to restorations, teeth, and crowns, severe jaw or facial pain, tension-type headaches, as well as disorders in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) that’s situated in the front of the ears.