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What Are the Different Treatments for Bruxism in Children?

A splint may be worn at night to prevent damage to teeth for people with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and bruxism.
A girl who's lost her lower two front teeth.
Article Details
  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are several treatments for bruxism, the grinding of teeth. Mouth guards are effective for children whose tooth grinding makes their jaw sore. Finding the reason for a child's stress that is causing the bruxism can reduce symptoms. Correcting any nutritional deficiencies or illness causing the grinding is another treatment for bruxism in children.

Symptoms of bruxism in children include head pain, neck pain, tooth erosion, damage to support structures, oral infection, headache, tooth sensitivity, temporomandibular joint pains, and sometimes tooth fractures. Bruxism in children is typically outgrown after children lose their baby teeth. Some children do continue to grind their teeth as adolescents though, so the treatments for bruxism are applicable to both children and adolescents.

Treatments given for bruxism in children could be complex or relatively simple depending on specific aspects of each individual case. In situations when tooth grinding makes a child's jaw or face very sore and in situations where there is extensive tooth damage, a dentist usually prescribes a night guard for teeth that looks somewhat similar to mouth guards that football players might wear. Children may have to take time to adjust to wearing the mouth guard; however, the mouth guards are reportedly very effective at reducing bruxism in children.

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In cases of bruxism pertaining to children where stress is the cause, parents are often advised to make an effort toward stress reduction by asking the child why he or she is upset and then finding some way to improve the situation. For instance, a child who worries about going away from the home may need the parents to provide reassurance that they will be close by if anything bad occurs. Or if there is some other issue the child is afraid of, the parents may have to discuss the issue with the child in an attempt to ease the child's fear. Doing relaxation activities such as yoga can be helpful. Also, studies have reported that hypnosis is effective in reducing bruxism problems.

Sometimes, a child may be able to do things to reduce stress and thereby reduce bruxism symptoms. For example, bruxism in children can be reduced if a child relaxes before bedtime. The doctor may advise that the child do activities such as taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or reading a book to relax and help reduce the bruxism symptoms.

Also, since it has been reported that physical stress, illness, dehydration, and nutritional deficiency can cause bruxism, it is important that parents make sure that none of these factors is affecting the child. For example, in addition to the above mentioned treatments, taking the child to a physician for a full physical exam to make sure there is no underlying physical illness can be important. Making sure there are no vitamin or mineral or nutritional deficiencies can be important. Additionally, making sure the child consumes enough water daily so dehydration does not occur can be important in preventing bruxism.

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