Does your child clench or grind his or her teeth? This condition is called bruxism, and it can be managed. Most of the time, children suffer from sleep bruxism where they grind their teeth or clench their jaws at night, but some kids do that during daytime as well.
Teeth grinding means that your child might be stressed or anxious about something. Finding a way to help your kid relax before bedtime may solve the problem. However, there are many other things you can do.
Here are 8 things to do when your children grind their teeth.
1. Determine the cause of the problem
Sometimes teeth grinding can be related to the fact that your kid’s teeth are simply coming through. Moreover, some children experience teeth grinding at night because they have difficulty breathing during sleep. It has to do with the shape of their palate as well as the size of their tonsils and adenoids.
Still, the issue is dangerous because the enamel wears out from grinding – and that’s far more noticeable in children. If your child is a teeth grinder, by the time they’re 5 his or her teeth will be really worn out. Some children grow out of teeth grinding, but it’s best to deal with the situation as early as possible.
2. Consider meeting a therapist
If you think your child’s teeth grinding habit might have a psychological source, it’s best to schedule a meeting with a skilled psychotherapist who will help your child overcome their habit. Teeth grinding often appears as a consequence of stress or anxiety – but these can be dealt with by a professional. Some of the most common techniques therapists use to teach children to include autosuggestion or guided meditation.
3. Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Teeth grinding might signify that your child is anxious or stressed. By helping your kids to relax before bedtime, you can reduce how often they grind their teeth.
Some of the best relaxing pre-bedtime activities include listening to soothing music, reading your child a book, taking a warm bath, or telling your child sweet stories and singing lullabies.
Moreover, you should make your child’s room look peaceful and pleasant. Dim the lights and make sure the room is cool to help your child sleep. It will all help your kid stop grinding their teeth by becoming more relaxed. Also, check that their bed is comfortable. As your child starts to outgrow their bed, consider getting him or her a larger one so they can relax comfortably and sleep better.
4. Hold a warm washcloth to their jaw
In general, warm temperatures create proper blood flow, and it’s a great idea to hold a warm washcloth to your child’s jaw before bedtime. Holding a warm, wet washcloth will help your kid’s jaw muscles to relax by creating healthy blood flow in the area.
That way, your child is less likely to clench their teeth together while they sleep. All it takes is running the washcloth under warm water and testing the cloth against your own skin to ensure that it’s not too hot. Once it has cooled against the jaw of your child, you can run it under the water again and switch to the other side of your kid’s jaw.
5. Teach your kid how to avoid clenching their jaw
You can easily take advantage of techniques used by professional therapists to manage teeth grinding. When your kid notices that they are clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth, it’s a good idea to show them how to stop doing these actions when they become aware of them.
For example, tell your kid to place the tip of their tongue between their teeth whenever they notice they are clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth. Having their tongue in between the teeth helps to stop doing that instantly.
6. Get your kid a mouthguard
If your dentist recommends that you get your child a mouthguard, following their advice is a smart move and will help you protect your child’s teeth. Don’t forget that grinding teeth means that your kid is damaging them.
A mouthguard is made of quality silicone rubber and serves as a shield that keeps the upper and lower molars from grinding against one another. Don’t forget to submerge the mouthguard in water to make sure it’s clean. You should also clean it with a toothbrush every one or two days.
7. Keep your kid from chewing on things that aren’t edible
Chewing on things other than food might damage their teeth further during the day. For example, if your kid chews on pencils, pens, on their nails, you need to do your best to help them break these habits.
Also, don’t let your kids chew gum. Chewing gum instantly causes the jaw to clench. And worse, that type of jaw clenching can easily become subconscious and make your kid’s teeth grinding habit even worse. While working through their habits, keep your kids away from chewing gum.
8. Make sure that your kid isn’t consuming caffeine
It’s best to minimize the amount of caffeine your child consumes every day. That’s because caffeine alters their sleep schedule by blocking the formation of a chemical called adenosis which helps to make them feel more relaxed and sleep better. Don’t forget that caffeine doesn’t appear only in coffee. You can find caffeine in products like energy drinks, sodas, or chocolate.
Teeth grinding is a habit that severely compromises the teeth health of your child. Don’t ignore it and help your kid overcome it as soon as possible. Identify the cause behind their grinding teeth at night and if it turns out to be a psychological condition, don’t hesitate to consult with a child therapist who will advise you on the best course of action.
Bruxism is a problematic but manageable condition – as long as you act quickly and provide your child with all the help they need.
Use these 8 tips, and you will be on your way to breaking your child’s damaging habits and making sure that they stop grinding their teeth and sleep better.