One of the most common questions patients ask Dr. Rashmi Ambewadikar, pediatric dentist at Astoria Smiles Pediatric Dentistry during their children's dental visits is "Why is my kid grinding his teeth at night? It's so loud while he's sleeping, it wakes me up!" Nighttime teeth grinding, also know as "bruxism" is a very common behavior. Most children that are experiencing bruxism will decrease this activity when their "6 year molars" begin to erupt around age 6 and stop between the ages of 9-12.
While there is no certain consensus on why this occurs, there are a few theories. One is that a child's bite is flexible and changing as they grow. Grinding is a subconscious attempt to compensate for these changes. Another theory is that grinding may be due to stress, as in adults, but that is more commonly noted in children of middle school age during school exams, changing of environments, and changes in family life.
Fortunately, most cases of nighttime bruxism do not require treatment since the habit will stop long before the permanent teeth can be affected, and pain or compromised esthetics due to grinding in the primary (baby) teeth rarely occurs. Dr. Rashmi Ambewadikar at Astoria Smiles Pediatric Dentistry will evaluate each patient at every dental checkup for signs if bruxism. Occasionally, severe bruxism cases and cases that do not stop naturally will require intervention in the form of a mouthguard to be worn at night to protect the permanent teeth.