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Teeth grinding (scientifically called Bruxism) is a problem among children and adults alike. Most children lose the habit as they grow older but, for some, the habit follows them through adulthood. Most people grind their teeth sometimes, and this occasional grinding doesn’t usually pose much of a threat. When grinding occurs regularly, though, it might be time to make some changes.

Why do people grind their teeth?

Teeth grinding often occurs while one is sleeping, but common factors can include stress and anxiety. In some cases, teeth grinding can also be a sign of sleep apnea. Most cases of teeth-grinding occur, however, because of missing or crooked teeth or an abnormal bite.

It can be hard to know if you are a teeth-grinder yourself, since it usually happens during your sleep. Pay attention to your body in the mornings as waking up with dull, constant headaches or a sore jaw can be a sign that you might be grinding your teeth while you sleep.

If only done occasionally, teeth grinding is not a health risk. Regular teeth grinding, however, can result in the loosening, loss, or fracture of the teeth. If this becomes the case, dentures may be needed as teeth are likely to turn to stumps and crowns and fillings will have no place in the mouth any longer.

Should I be worried if I hear my child grinding his or her teeth?

No. Teeth grinding is very common among children – especially while they sleep. There has been no evidence of baby teeth being affected by a child’s teeth grinding since the teeth fall out eventually anyway.

If you think your child’s teeth grinding could be a sign of something greater going on in their lives, like stress, anxiety, or sleep apnea, try talking to them about what might be stressing them out if they are old enough to understand, as that may be evidence that there is a larger emotional issue at hand.

How can I stop grinding my teeth?

One option for stopping nighttime teeth grinding is using a mouth guard. The rubber from the mouth guard makes teeth grinding almost impossible because, if the individual tries to grind, the rubber just grinds together – not affecting the teeth.

If something like stress or anxiety is causing your teeth grinding, talk with your dentist about ways to deal with your stress.

If you want to know whether or not you grind your teeth, ask your dentist at your next appointment — he should be able to tell you just by looking at the structure of your teeth.