To put an end to teeth grinding, it can be helpful to identify the root cause. Multiple factors can lead to bruxism, including stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, reactions to medication, teeth misalignment and any source of pain such as growing pains, injuries, incoming teeth and more. Kids often stop grinding their teeth when these factors dissipate or when their adult teeth grow in. Some, though, maintain the habit into adolescence.
If this happens to your child, you have several options. Your child’s dentist may recommend a night guard to protect teeth in cases where bruxism is causing damage. Dental coverage for night guards – commonly referred to as “occlusal guards” – varies, so check your plan to learn if they’re covered.
Watch out for common indicators of stress like behavior shifts, sleep difficulties and changes in appetite. If your kid’s teeth grinding is a result of stress, try to identify and address the stressors by discussing it directly with your child. Additionally, you can help with a few soothing steps around naptime and bedtime.
• Avoid giving your child caffeine, especially before going to bed.
• Designate 10 to 30 minutes to establish a consistent routine. This could include calming activities like reading a book or listening to relaxing music.
• Turn off electronics to give your child adequate time to wind down and prepare for sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests a curfew for digital devices of 30 minutes to two hours before naptime or bedtime.