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How do I care for a child with teeth grinding (bruxism)?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, often happens as we sleep. It can be caused not just by stress and anxiety but by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked. Dentists can fit children with mouth guards, to protect their teeth while they are sleeping. Exercises may also help to reduce tension.

Caring for a child who grinds her teeth (bruxism) usually means using a mouth guard at night to protect the teeth. Some children grind their teeth from stress or anxiety. If you think this is the case with your child, a relaxing bedtime routine might help. This is a good time to talk to your child about any problems that could be bothering her. If your child is grinding her teeth because of pain from an ear infection or some other cause, an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever may help.

Most children outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach adolescence, so this may be a temporary disorder. With some children, teeth grinding starts as a response to the pain caused by teething, earache, or the growth and development of the jaw. Pain relievers may help. For others, the reason may be stress. In either case, having the child perform relaxing rituals before bedtime may ease symptoms. Taking a bath, reading a book, or listening to music all may help the child relax. If stress is the reason for your child's bruxism, the underlying issue may need to be addressed in order for the teeth grinding to stop.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.