• Does Your Child Grind Their Teeth?

  • Bruxism - San Mateo dentistIf you spend enough time in our San Mateo dentist office, you may hear some unfamiliar terminology.  So, in honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, let’s take a look at one of those words: Bruxism.  Bruxism refers to the condition of clenching or grinding you teeth.  As adults, we are able to often recognize we are doing this by identifying the symptoms.  However, children are another topic.

    It is thought that about 40% of children clench or grind their teeth. This habit can damage teeth as they emerge, but bruxism is often difficult to identify in young ones.   For one, they can’t tell us they have a headache.  As they become toddlers, they may act out due to the pain, but have trouble communicating the cause.

    Possible Bruxism Symptoms and Observations

    Typically, adult bruxism is brought on by stress and anxiety.  However, young children experience less stress than we do as adults.  Often their bruxism is caused by emerging baby teeth, or adult teeth as they grow up.  They clench their teeth in response to the pain of these new teeth erupting.

    More obvious signs are with teeth grinding.  You can usually hear when a child is grinding their teeth.  Many do so in their sleep.  Again, while baby teeth are emerging, this is common behavior.  Yet, if you observe the habit continuing once the adult teeth have begun forming, it may be worth a discussion with our San Mateo dentist.

    Pacifier Use

    Giving young children a pacifier is normal and often recommended.  It can reduce the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and often prevents thumb-sucking.  Occupying your child’s mouth with a pacifier also soothes and reduces anxiety.  However, the key to pacifier use is knowing when to take it away.

    Pacifier Side Effects

    Once the baby teeth begin falling out, your San Mateo dentist recommends discontinuing pacifier use.  This is due to the adult teeth forming and your child’s mouth structure changing.  Some side effects that are a result of overuse include:

    • Bite problems: an overbite or underbite can develop
    • Crooked teeth: Permanent teeth will not come in straight
    • Oral cavity issues: The structure of the child’s oral cavity can change; like the roof of their mouth
    • Speech Impediments: Enunciation and pronunciation is affected by the teeth and tongue


    Children’s Dentistry

    Our San Mateo dentist recommends setting up a dentist appointment as soon as the first baby tooth comes in.  Our Children’s Dentistry services will help you understand what you need to know regarding oral care health in children.  We can address pacifier use and ensure that your child has the best care possible.  Early visits to our office are a great way to introduce your child to the dentist and to get them excited about brushing and flossing their teeth.  The long-term benefits that you give your child by introducing them to oral care early on in life, lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.  For more information regarding your child’s oral health, follow us on Facebook.  We look forward to seeing you.