When you hear the sound of your child grinding their teeth at night, it’s easy to panic and worry that they’re developing a dental problem. However, it’s more likely that they are simply experiencing a case of tectonic jaw. This is also known as tooth grinding, bitting or gnashing, and it’s something that many children experience from time to time. The reasons why kids grind their teeth at night vary from child to child, but there are things you can do as a parent to help them get through this stage easier. Read on for some helpful tips on how to stop your child from grinding their teeth at night.
How To Stop Your Child From Grinding Their Teeth At Night
1. Discuss Your Child’s Bedtime Ritual
If your child starts grinding their teeth at night after a new tooth has sprouted, it may be that they’re simply struggling with the discomfort of teething. Teething can cause aching and irritation in your child’s gums, which can lead to grinding. If your child is struggling with teething and grinding their teeth at night, it might be helpful to let them chew on a teething ring, if they’re old enough, or a damp cloth to soothe the pain. Some children find that having a cold beverage, like a bottle of milk, helps ease the pain of teething.
2. Establish a Routine
One of the ways you can help your child stop grinding their teeth at night is by establishing a regular bedtime routine. This will help them calm down and be more relaxed, making it easier for them to settle down for sleep. Your bedtime routine could include reading a book, taking a bath, or even having a warm cup of milk or herbal tea to help them relax before bed. A bedtime routine can also help your child sleep better by setting expectations for when they should start getting drowsier. With a consistent routine, your child will know that it’s time to start slowing down and getting ready to sleep.
3. Install a Night Light
Another way to help your child stop grinding their teeth at night is to install a night light in their room. This will help them navigate their bed without disturbing their sleeping partner. A night light can also help your child feel more comfortable in their environment and help them relax easier while they’re trying to fall asleep. If your child grinds their teeth because they are afraid of the dark, then a night light might not be helpful. Instead, try to establish a routine where your child feels safe and secure, and they’re able to wind down to the point where they’re ready for sleep.
4. Provide a Comfy Spot for Relaxation
If you notice that your child is having trouble letting go of the day, try creating a comfy spot for relaxation where they can unwind from the stress of the day before bed. You can create a relaxation spot in their room, or even in your living room if they’re having a hard time letting go before bed. A relaxation spot could include soft lighting, a pillow for comfortable seating, and perhaps some calming music to help your child relax. Taking time to unwind before bed is a great way for your child to relax and let go of the day so they can fall asleep more easily.
5. Try Acupressure
Acupressure is a Chinese technique that has been used to help prevent teeth grinding for centuries. It involves applying pressure to specific spots on your body using your fingers. Acupressure can help to relax your child and send signals to their brain to calm down, which will make it easier for them to fall asleep. While you can use acupressure on your child, they may not be able to apply the pressure themselves. That’s okay! You can try placing a tennis ball in between your child’s upper and lower back, or applying pressure with a massage ball to the side of their neck. If your child is anxious, tired, or overstimulated from the day, they may be more likely to grind their teeth. Acupressure can help calm your child and relax their muscles, making it easier for them to fall asleep without grinding their teeth.
6. Seek Professional Help
If you’ve tried some of these tips to help your child stop grinding their teeth and the problem persists, then it might be time to seek professional help. Your child’s dentist should be able to provide you with advice on how you can help them stop grinding their teeth, and they may even suggest some tools you can use, such as a mouth guard. Your child’s pediatrician may also be able to offer you some advice on how to help them stop grinding their teeth. If your child is grinding their teeth and experiencing some pain, they may be grinding their teeth to cope with the discomfort. If this is the case, you may want to talk to your child and see if they’re dealing with some stress or anxiety that’s causing them to grind their teeth in the first place.
What Are The Risks Of Teeth Grinding For Children And Adults Alike?
1. Tooth Loss
Teeth grinding can wear away your teeth and cause them to become loose, which can lead to tooth loss over time. You may notice that your teeth feel looser or more sensitive when you’re grinding, but you may not see any immediate signs of damage or pain, so it’s important to pay attention to whether you’re grinding your teeth during the day and at night when you sleep. If you grind your teeth while you sleep, it could be causing some serious damage without your even knowing it because there are no outward signs of damage most of the time.
2. Jaw Pain and Damage to the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
If you grind your teeth during the day or at night, this can lead to pain in your jaw, face, and mouth as well as damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is a complex joint in your jaw that connects your lower jawbone with other bones in your skull like the mandible and cranium bones, so if this joint is damaged from grinding, it could cause some serious problems for you as well as make it difficult for you to open or close your mouth properly and chew food properly when you eat.
3. Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
If you grind your teeth, you may also develop temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which is a condition that involves pain and limited range of motion in the jaw joint. TMD is caused by overuse of the temporomandibular joint and can lead to difficulty chewing, swallowing, or talking in some cases. If you grind your teeth at night, this could be causing TMJ damage due to overuse of the joint during sleep as well as leading to TMD.
4. Sleep Deprivation
If you grind your teeth at night, this could also be causing sleep deprivation because it can lead to problems like insomnia and restlessness. You may notice that when you’re grinding your teeth at night, it causes you to wake up more often or makes it difficult for you to fall asleep again after waking up from a dream or nightmare due to the pain in your jaw and face. This can make it difficult for you to sleep throughout the night without waking up several times if you have a bad case of TMD or TMJ damage from grinding your teeth too much during the day or at night as well.
Some Helpful Tips To Make Sure Your Child Isn’t Grinding Their Teeth At Night?
- Monitor your child’s sleeping habits. If they are grinding their teeth, try to find out what time of the day they do it. If it is during the day, have them wear a mouthguard.
- Have your child wear a mouthguard at night if they grind their teeth during the day and at night.
- If your child is already wearing a mouthguard at night because they grind their teeth during the day, you should continue to have them wear it at night as it can help prevent damage to the TMJ and jawbone as well as help prevent TMD and restlessness due to sleep deprivation.
- Make sure that you keep track of how often your child grinds their teeth during the day and at night so that you can address any problems with him or her before they get worse or end up causing serious jaw pain, TMJ damage, TMD, or sleep deprivation problems for them in the future if left untreated.
Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a relatively common condition. It is estimated that up to 40% of people grind their teeth in their sleep at some time in their life. The main symptom of teeth grinding is tooth wear. Teeth grinding can cause headaches and jaw pain due to muscle spasms, ear pain due to sound vibrations, abscess formation due to infection from broken skin around the teeth, and dental wear from excessive tooth grinding. Teeth grinding is particularly likely to occur during times of stress, when sleeping alone, during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, and while using certain medications. If you notice that your child is grinding their teeth at night, there are a few things you can do to help them stop. Establishing a bedtime routine, installing a night light, and providing a comfy spot for relaxation are all great ways to help your child calm down and relax before bed. You can also try acupressure or seeking professional help as a last resort if you notice that the problem persists.