Causes of bruxism in children, its consequences and methods of treatment

Does your child often grind his teeth at night? Bruxism in children is a common phenomenon, at least 50% of parents observe it periodically or constantly. The reason is not worms, contrary to common misconception, but a number of psychological and physiological factors.

Not only the causes are dangerous, but also the consequences: dental diseases, neuralgia, sleep disorders. Treatment is selected individually, non-drug methods and drug therapy are used.

The reasons

Nocturnal seizures are studied in several areas of medicine: dentistry, otolaryngology, neurology, psychology. Accordingly, various justifications for the pathology are put forward:

  • Neurogenic origin. Teeth grinding during sleep is a consequence of dysfunction of the peripheral or central nervous system. Often, bruxism is combined with other motor and neurological disorders: somnambulism, epilepsy, enuresis , tremors, apnea.
  • Psychological reasons. Family trouble, stress, worries lead to involuntary muscle spasms at night. When contracting, the facial muscles produce a characteristic grinding sound.
  • Osteopaths cite birth trauma or obstructed childbirth as the cause of bruxism in children.
  • Dentists consider abnormalities in the functioning and structure of the dentoalveolar system as provoking factors: malocclusion, over- or under-completeness . Poor quality orthodontics (poorly fitted braces ) can also cause bruxism .

Teeth creaking can also appear during their eruption or change. This condition is considered physiological and does not require special treatment.

Symptoms and Effects

Nocturnal bruxism in a child is single or repeated cases of grinding or clicking. The attack lasts no more than 10 seconds, while blood pressure often rises, breathing quickens. The child himself does not wake up, since he cannot control his condition in a dream.

After episodic attacks in the morning, the child complains of soreness of the maxillofacial muscles, headache, fatigue. With constant bruxism, the condition of the teeth worsens: enamel is erased, sensitivity to temperature changes appears, cracks and fractures of crowns, and loss of fillings are likely. The adjacent tissues are also injured, the gums become inflamed.

The long-term consequences of bruxism in a child include dysfunction or limitation of the mobility of the masticatory apparatus, hypertrophy of the facial muscles, pain in the jaws, neck, and shoulders. Chronic trauma to soft tissues leads to suppuration, the formation of fibroids in the oral cavity, “scallops” in the tongue. Sometimes gingivitis or lichen planus develops on the mucous membrane. 


Occasional single seizures are not grounds for anxiety. You need to see a doctor when teeth grinding is often observed and negatively affects their condition and general well-being.

How to cure bruxism in children? This can be done in different ways after finding out the cause of the disease. If the pathology is psychogenic in nature, psychotherapy is needed. Parents should create a comfortable environment at home, talk with their child more often, discuss various situations, and avoid traumatic events.

The regime of the day is of great importance. You can’t put kids to bed late, arrange late dinners. In the evening, you should not watch films that excite the nervous system, play outdoor games.

Drug therapy can be used to treat bruxism in children. Prescribed drugs that eliminate muscle spasm and seizure activity:

  • B-group vitamins;
  • magnesium and calcium preparations;
  • sedatives or hypnotics.

Botulinum toxin injections are sometimes used . Massages or warm compresses on the jaw area also have a positive effect.

During the day, you need to monitor the behavior of the baby. Teach him to control emotions, keep his jaw relaxed, not clenching his teeth too much. Specific dental treatment consists in correcting the child’s bite (installing braces , grinding or dental prosthetics). To protect the enamel, individual rubber or plastic mouth guards are made , put on at night.  

Bruxism and braces

Many adolescents need bite correction or tooth position correction. For this purpose, special braces are used, the incorrect installation of which can provoke a disease. If a child wears braces and grinds his teeth at night, it is necessary to inform the orthodontist about this in order to eliminate the cause of the pathology.

Can braces be used for existing bruxism ? No, the installation of the system is carried out only after treatment and the complete disappearance of symptoms. Otherwise, the disease progresses and the condition of the teeth worsens.


If the child begins to grind his teeth regularly at night, you need to inform the pediatrician about this. He will refer you for consultation to one or more specialized specialists who will select the appropriate treatment. In addition, from an early age, you need to monitor the condition of the baby’s teeth, eliminating problems in a timely manner.

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