What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism, or the habit of clenching or grinding the teeth, is an everyday issue that affects patients of all ages, including children. Though it often occurs during sleep, bruxism can occur in response to stress, teething, and other childhood concerns. At Lancaster Pediatric Dental Associates, our board-certified pediatric specialists routinely screen for evidence of bruxism and can help you determine if this condition is affecting your child's oral health. As a comprehensive pediatric practice, our team can also customize a night guard to help protect your family member's teeth against the effects of this common dental concern. If you believe your son or daughter may be grinding their teeth or would like to learn more about custom night guards, schedule a consultation at our Lancaster, PA pediatric dental practice.
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Bruxism Signs and Symptoms
A number of symptoms may indicate that your child is grinding the teeth and/or clenching their jaw. While the most obvious sign is evidence of wear on the chewing and biting surfaces of the teeth, your child may also wake up in the morning with a headache, pain in the jaw, or other discomforts. You may also hear your child grinding the teeth at night during sleep. Bruxism in children may be brought on by a number of factors, including teething, change in dentition (as baby teeth fall out and permanent teeth emerge), stress, and a misaligned bite. Certain medical conditions and medications can also contribute to a bruxism habit. Since teeth grinding and clenching increases tension in the jaw and can damage the teeth and temporomandibular joints (TMJ), we recommend that you schedule a visit with one of our experienced pediatric dentists if your child is showing symptoms of bruxism.
How Is Bruxism Treated?
Our team will evaluate for signs and symptoms of bruxism during each of your child's routine dental exams. In some cases, we may simply monitor the condition and offer suggestions on how to decrease the habit through a palliative approach, such as relaxation techniques before bedtime or taking a warm bath. Some patients may benefit from simple therapies, like a bite adjustment or need more involved care, such as with orthodontic treatment. A custom night guard appliance may be recommended in other instances, which is a special type of mouth guard worn comfortably in the mouth at night to protect the teeth and jaw against damage from grinding and clenching. To make a custom night guard, we take an impression of your child's upper and lower teeth and send these molds off to a special dental lab. Once it is complete, we have you bring your child back into our office for a quick visit to receive the appliance and allow our team to make any necessary adjustments to enhance its comfort. Special instructions on how to clean and care for it will be provided to you. Custom night guards are made with high-grade materials to fit comfortably in the mouth and help improve the nature of your child's sleep by diminishing jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
Your child's bruxism condition and treatment results will be monitored from visit-to-visit. In many cases, patients grow out of childhood bruxism; however, we will continue to closely evaluate the need for follow-up care as your son or daughter progresses through adolescence and into the teen years. For night guard therapy to be effective, your child will need to wear it each night. If you find that your child's night guard is not diminishing or alleviating the discomfort and dental problems created by bruxism, please inform our office so that we can consider additional issues or try other therapies. In order to help keep your child's mouth and night guard in pristine condition, we recommend that you assist them with their oral hygiene and caring for the appliance following each use. Your child's night guard should be brought in to all future appointments so that we can evaluate its fit and adjust the guard as needed. A new night guard may be required to accommodate jaw development as your child grows.
Insurance coverage for bruxism treatment may vary according to the type of care recommended and among various dental insurance plans. Before beginning your child's treatment, our team will review your insurance benefits and let you know of any anticipated out-of-pocket expenses. Lancaster Pediatric Dental Associates is pleased to accept a range of affordable payment options, including low-cost financing, to help you give your child lasting oral health and a happy smile.
How can I help my child with bruxism?
Like bruxism in adults, childhood teeth grinding can cause oral health problems if left untreated. If you notice that your child is grinding their teeth in their sleep or they are complaining of painful symptoms associated with bruxism, we recommend scheduling an appointment for teeth grinding treatment at our Lancaster, PA office.
What happens if my child’s bruxism goes untreated?
If bruxism goes untreated, symptoms can worsen, and more severe oral health conditions could develop. Conditions affecting the temporomandibular joint can develop, such as temporomandibular disorder.
How early can bruxism develop in children?
Bruxism in children can develop as early as four years old. However, bruxism is most common in children between the ages of 10 – 14 years old.
Protect Against Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding and clenching can lead to discomfort and a number of dental concerns for your child's smile. Lancaster Pediatric Dental Associates is proud to offer custom solutions, including night guard therapy, to help target the source of your child's bruxism and protect their present and future oral health. If you think your son or daughter may be clenching or grinding their teeth, get in touch with our child-centered pediatric dental practice in Lancaster, PA today and schedule a bruxism consultation.