Bruxism is the phenomenon of clenching or grinding of teeth, especially when asleep.
In a study conducted in Chandigarh, India for children between 3 - 10 years, 12% of parents reported this problem in their children1.
What causes bruxism?
The causes are unclear. However, there are various factors that may influence this.
- Stress - in the past or anticipated
- Misaligned teeth
- Pain like that from an ear infection
- Unpleasant experiences
Effects of bruxism
- It can get very loud especially for people sleeping next to the child
- Though it appears and sounds like a lot of harm is being done, there is not much possibility of permanent damage
What should parents do?
- Take the child to a dentist to check for misalignment of teeth
- During regular visits, mention the grinding or clenching to the dentist, so they may check for any damage. If the dentist sees damage, they may recommend a teeth guard.
- Ensure that the child goes to bed after a relaxed experience
- Think through your child's activities and experiences. Have they undergone any stressful experiences? Are there experiences coming up (like exams?) that could be stressing out your child? Help them relax through conversations with them.
- Usually, children outgrow this problem by the age of 10 or 12
1. Bhavneet Bharti, Prahbhjot Malhi and Sapna Kashyap, "Patterns and Problems of Sleep in School Going Children", Indian Pediatrics 2006; 43:35-38