Do you ever wake up in the morning with a sore mouth or jaw? Have you ever slept
over at a friend's house and been told, "You grind your teeth when you sleep"? If
so, you might have bruxism (say: BRUK-siz-um).
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is the term for grinding or clenching your teeth.
It can happen during the day, but usually happens when you're asleep. Most of the
time you don't even know you're doing it! It can happen to kids who still have all
their baby teeth or kids whose permanent teeth are starting to grow in.
Dentists don't know for sure why some people grind their teeth, but they think
it may have something to do with a person's bite — which means the way the top
and bottom teeth fit together.
Stress also may be behind bruxism. Have you ever worried about a test at school,
something a bully said to you, or moving to a new town? Your body can react to these
nervous feelings and fears in different ways, like grinding or clenching your teeth.
Many kids grind their teeth at some time or another. Most of the time, it doesn't
cause any pain or damage to your teeth. But if you share a room, you could drive your
brother or sister nuts with the sound! In serious cases, nighttime grinding can wear
down tooth enamel (the hard covering on your teeth) and cause jaw problems and pain.
But these problems usually happen to grownups.
What Will the Dentist Do?
You'll probably grow out of the teeth grinding. If it's making your jaw and face
sore or giving you headaches, talk to your dentist,
who will examine your teeth to see if the tooth enamel is worn down or chipped. The
dentist also might ask questions about your teeth (for instance, asking your parents
if they hear you grinding your teeth when you're asleep).
Usually, kids don't need to do anything about bruxism. But if it's causing you
pain or other problems, the dentist might give you something called a night guard,
which is a piece of plastic, kind of like a mouth guard that athletes wear. A night
guard is worn at night and is fitted especially for your teeth and mouth to prevent
you from grinding your teeth. Wearing one can now can prevent problems later.
Goodbye to the Grinding!
Because stress could be the cause of bruxism, you might try changing your bedtime
routine so you're relaxed by the time you say goodnight. Take a warm bath or shower,
listen to slow music, or read a good book. It just might help you say bye-bye to bruxism!