Bruxism (Teeth Grinding or Clenching)
When you look in on your sleeping child, you want to hear the sounds of sweet dreams: easy breathing and perhaps an occasional sigh. But some parents hear the harsher sounds of gnashing and grinding teeth, called
, which is common in children.
Bruxism is the medical term for the grinding of teeth or the clenching of jaws. Many children have it (2 to 3 out of every 10 will grind or clench, experts say), but most outgrow it. Bruxism often happens during deep sleep phases or when children are under stress.
Causes of Bruxism
Experts aren't always sure why bruxism happens. In some cases, children may grind because the top and bottom teeth are not aligned properly. Others do it as a response to pain, such as from an earache or teething. Children might grind their teeth as a way to ease the pain, just as they might rub a sore muscle. Many children outgrow these fairly common causes for grinding.
Stress - usually nervous tension or anger - is another cause. For instance, a child might worry about a test at school or a change in routine (a new sibling or a new teacher). Even arguing with parents and siblings can cause enough stress to prompt teeth grinding or jaw clenching.
Some children who are hyperactive also have bruxism. And sometimes children with other medical conditions (such as cerebral palsy) or who take certain medicines can develop bruxism.