Have you ever heard your child grind her teeth or seen her clench her jaw? I heard my son grinding his teeth the other night and wondered if he was going to have any baby teeth left! I cringed: was he under stress at just 5 years old?!
Medically, this gesture is called “Bruxism”. Just so you know, about 38% of children grind their teeth (you are not alone!) and on average, they start around 3.5 years old but most stop around age 6. Dr. Weil states, “most kids outgrow this habit when they lose their baby teeth and, fortunately, it usually doesn’t hurt their permanent ones” (phew!). However, it can become a problem if the child does it chronically. If you suspect this, then see a dentist.
Why children grind their teeth and clench their jaws can be for any number of reasons:
- they do it because they are having some kind of pain: either teething or earaches
- they might be under stress
- a hyperactive child might be more likely to grind teeth
- their teeth aren’t aligned properly and don’t feel like they “fit” right so they grind away
- there is some evidence that allergies play a role
- there is also some evidence that pinworms play a role
- they are losing baby teeth and gaining adult teeth
- they may be dehydrated (especially in the summer months)