Teeth grinding and clenching in children is an orthodontic-related issue that can cause many problems for a child's oral health. Our BC and Alberta orthodontists explain how this can occur, and how early intervention and treatment can help.
What is Teeth Grinding & Clenching?
You may have heard of how teeth grinding or jaw clenching in adults can cause jaw pain, but this is also true for our children. Also referred to as bruxism, teeth grinding can take place while a child is asleep or sometimes during the day when they feel anxious. They may also grind or clench while chewing their food. While most children will eventually stop grinding their teeth around the time they lose their baby teeth, some do not outgrow the habit.
Physical symptoms of teeth grinding and clenching are typically related to the jaw. Your child might complain of a sore jaw or you may notice their teeth look worn down or chipped. Grinding can also wear down tooth enamel, exposing children to oral health issues in the future if left untreated.
Teeth grinding can also lead to earaches, facial pain and headaches. They may even have issues with their TMJ (temporomandibular joint). Sometimes, teeth grinding and jaw clenching are tied to emotional issues such as tension, depression, stress, anxiety or others.
For some children, teeth grinding is a natural reaction to growth and development. While these cases can't be prevented,stress-related grinding can be avoided and perhaps helped with early orthodontic intervention.
How Can Orthodontics Help?
When it comes to early intervention, our goal is to address any existing orthodontic issues and prevent new ones by guiding jaw growth and development. By taking a 2-Phase orthodontic treatment approach, we can work with your child's jaw growth to avoid bigger problems down the road while addressing symptoms that you may not naturally link to orthodontic-related issues.
Teeth grinding or clenching is sometimes related to airway issues caused by constriction of the airways or breathing problems. To find out if this is the case, we'll first conduct a myofunctional orthodontic exam to look for common indications of restrictions or blockages. From there, we'll work on intercepting negative habits and considering options to guide the growth of the jaw and face, potentially including palatal expansion.
With early orthodontic intervention and treatment, we might be able to correct teeth grinding and clenching and related issues, and potentially reduce the amount of time your child would need to spend wearing braces or Invisalign clear aligners as a teenager.
While teeth grinding or clenching can cause many issues and be concerning to parents, it's also a problem that can be corrected with a custom orthodontic treatment plan developed especially for your child.