Adults who clench or grind their teeth are not unusual. Clenching or grinding teeth is called bruxism. You don't usually hear about children who grind their teeth, but it does happen.
When people have bruxism, they may either clench their jaws together when they sleep, or they move their jaws back and forth when they sleep. Over time, bruxism can cause wear and tear on your child's teeth and jaws. Bruxism can cause teeth to crack, chip, or break. It can also cause inflammation of your child's jaw joints, which can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. People with TMD may have difficulty opening and closing their jaws, and they may hear a popping or cracking sound when their jaws do open.
Signs of Bruxism in Children
If you are concerned that your child may have a problem with tooth grinding, there are some signs you can look for or ask your child about. Your child might complain about lower jaw pain. You may be able to hear your child grinding their teeth at night, or you may be able to see them clench their teeth as they are sleeping. They may get frequent headaches as well. The dentist may notice cracked or chipped teeth, especially the back teeth, which bear the brunt of the damage.
Treatment for Bruxism
There are easy treatments for bruxism in children. One of the simplest ways to control bruxism in children is with a night guard. A dentist can fit your child with a night guard. Night guards can be hard or soft, depending on how severe their bruxism is. Once your child has a night guard, they will not be able to clench or grind their teeth.