Teeth Grinding in Children.

November 2018

Common question: “Why do both of my kids grind? It’s freaking me out.”

Answer: “Because?” Ok, that won’t do.

Honestly, one in every three kids that we see every day grinds. Before you start googling “stressed out kids,” let’s discuss some of the theories behind tooth grinding (also referred to as “bruxism” in pediatric dental lingo).

Theory 1: Baby teeth don’t quite fit into each other like adult teeth. Thus, they slide (think shuffle board versus Tetris) at night and kids find that rather satiating. Kids also like to do that in the car when they are bored or when they are super focused (think: Minecraft mode) as a method of distraction. Simply put, misaligned teeth can cause grinding.

Theory 2: Pressure to the inner ear at night causes grinding. To relieve that pressure, a child will grind, moving the jaw back and forth, to relieve the pressure (kind of like why we want to chew gum as a plane ascends).

Theory 3: Children can grind because of a psychological component. Stress (changes at school, changes at home, etc.) can influence a child to grind their teeth.

Relaxation Techniques for Teeth Grinding

If you see your child grind their teeth, we recommend relaxation techniques to ease the tension.  Here are some tips:

  1. If you hear the grinding at night or during the day, gently massage the jaw to release the pressure.
  2. Keep some essential oils at hand. We love Doterra products and have a Doterra diffuser in the practice. Some oils that have been recommended for grinders include Peppermint (anxiety preventer) oil, Frankincense (anti-inflammatory) oil, Chamomile (peaceful, relaxing) Oil, and Lavender (calms muscles) oil. We don’t recommend placing the oils directly on your child but a room diffuser works great for relaxation.
  3. Also, you can practice activities in the car that we call “LTTA”: Lips Together and Teeth Apart. The younger kids tend to giggle at this (which separates the jaw) and the older kids really enjoy the relaxation their face feels.

If your child begins to feel any sensitivity or headaches due to the grinding, please let us know. Call or email us to make an appointment. We can apply desensitizing medicament to the teeth and review different treatment options.

Hugs and High Fives,
Team Pediatric Dental Center.