Teeth grinding in children is fairly common. However, if it continues, there are various dental problems can occur. If your child grinds his or her teeth while sleeping, here is what you need to know. 

Why Does Your Child Grind His or Her Teeth?

There are several theories on why young children grind their teeth. One theory is that the grinding is due to immaturity of the neuromuscular system, which is responsible for controlling chewing. 

Some children tend to grind their teeth when they are stressed. For instance, if you and your spouse are going through a divorce, your child's reaction to it could be grinding his or her teeth while sleeping. The grinding is involuntary and your child is often unaware that he or she is doing it. 

Other possible reasons for your child's teeth grinding include medications, behavioral conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and disease. Diseases, such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy, have been linked with teeth grinding.

What Problems Can Result?

Teeth grinding does not always have an impact on dental health. Some children start and stop the habit within a reasonable amount of time and there is no damage. Unfortunately, children who grind their teeth for longer periods of time might experience dental issues. 

Facial pain, jaw problems, worn tooth enamel, and increased sensitivity to temperatures can occur. When the tooth enamel is worn down, your child is more vulnerable to cavities and gum infections. Some children have alignment problems that lead to the need for dental appliances to correct them. 

What Can You Do?

One of the most important steps you can take is to involve your child's pediatric dentist. The dentist can evaluate your child's teeth to determine if there is any damage from the grinding.

The dentist can also determine if there is a need for the use of a dental appliance. A special night guard can be custom-fitted to your child's mouth to help prevent grinding. The guard will need to be worn nightly until your child stops grinding his or her teeth or the pediatric dentist informs you and your child it is no longer needed. 

If your child is under stress that is causing the grinding, consider having him or her evaluated by a children's therapist. There might be underlying emotional issues that need to be addressed. 

Teeth grinding is usually not a cause for concern. However, you need to work with your pediatric dentist (like those at Apollo Dental Center) to protect your child's teeth.