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Addressing Concerns About Teeth Grinding in Young Children
Questions to dentists and staff from parents about preschool children “grinding their teeth” while sleeping are very common because parents are often concerned that the child is causing damage to their dentition.
Although the noise from bruxism may be unsettling for parents when it is coming from their young child, fortunately it is usually not harmful. Grinding is commonly reported in children under age 7 and typically stops around the time their first permanent molars erupt.
While there is no specific single cause, pain from an earache or teething, a malocclusion, or even a change in routine may cause children to grind their teeth while sleeping. Children who are hyperactive or have certain medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, may also grind.
If the child’s first permanent molars have not yet erupted, unless the enamel on the primary molars shows unusual wear, teeth are chipped, or there is increased sensitivity, no treatment is usually necessary beyond monitoring the situation. Most children outgrow bruxism before there is damage to permanent teeth, but until they do, parental observation and regular dental visits are needed to keep the situation in check.
AAPD is the membership organization representing the specialty of pediatric dentistry. The AAPD’s 9,300 members serve as primary care and specialty providers for millions of children from infancy through adolescence; provide advanced, specialty-level care for infants, children, adolescents and patients with special health care needs; and are the primary contributors to professional education programs and scholarly works concerning children’s dental care. The AAPD also represents general dentists who treat a significant number of children in their practices. For more information and resources, visit www.aapd.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Edward H. Moody, Jr., DDS
President, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)