My 3-year-old son grinds his teeth at night, and I am concerned about it. His pediatric dentist says he will grow out of it, but what if he doesn’t? I know these are his primary teeth, but can we do something to help him break the habit now? Is it best to get a second opinion, or am I overly anxious? Thank you. Heather.
Thank you for contacting Bayou Dental Group in Monroe. We understand your concerns about your son’s oral health. We will explain the basics of teeth grinding (bruxism) in children to help you decide whether you want a second opinion.
How Common Is Sleep Grinding in Children?
Sleep grinding is common in children. According to a 2021 article on sleep bruxism in children, 13 to 49 percent of children grind their teeth.
A few facts:
- Most children grind their teeth during non-Rapid-Eye-Movement (REM) sleep.
- Bedwetting, nightmares, or fear of the dark often accompany nighttime bruxism.
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder may be associated with teeth grinding.
- Children who snore may also grind their teeth.
- Allergies, certain prescription medications, and sleep apnea can cause the habit.
Why Do Kids Grind Their Teeth?
According to the Sleep Foundation, psychological concerns, environmental factors, and family history can trigger teeth grinding. The Sleep Foundation article on teeth grinding in children lists the following causes of teeth grinding:
- Dental issues
- Second-hand smoking
- Sleep and mental health disorders
Should You Be Concerned About Teeth Grinding?
You should be concerned about your child’s teeth grinding and its causes. Persistent bruxism can lead to headaches, neck pain, earaches, or facial pain. Although your child may grow out of the habit, you will want a dentist to watch its effects on your child’s teeth.
A dentist and pediatrician can check for underlying problems, such as teeth misalignment or psychological factors. You deserve to feel comfortable about your child’s oral health; a second opinion with a pediatric or family dentist can help.
The Monroe, Louisiana, dentists at Bayou Dental Group sponsor this post. Please read about Dr. Henderson’s, Dr. Finley’s, and Dr. Coughran’s commitment to offering their patients some of the best dental care in Monroe.