Why does my three year old grind her teeth at night?
Q : My three-year-old grinds her teeth when she sleeps at night. I’m worried that this may cause her teeth to be misaligned and affect her permanent teeth when it comes out. Are there any treatment for this and what happen is she does not stop.
A : Tooth grinding at night ( also known as sleep bruxism ) is not uncommon, occurring in up to 1 in 4 pre-schoolers. However, the intense noise can cause many parents, like yourself, to worry about the impact on a child’s growing dentition.
While most children spontaneously stop grinding their teeth over time, this repetitive rubbing action can cause the biting surfaces of her teeth to wear and flatten. However, this is unlikely to cause mal-alignment or discomfort to your child.
The best way however to maximise your child’s potential for good dental alignment is by taking optimal care of her baby teeth, which help to ‘reserve space’ for the permanent teeth. Ensuring that she remains free of dental cavities and prolonged habits like thumb sucking are key. Your paediatric dentist will also be able to guide you along this journey.
Treatment for sleep bruxism is rarely necessary at a young age. Some parents have tried playing soothing music or reading stories at bedtime to create a relaxing mood as stress and anxiety have been implicated as possible causes of sleep bruxism; results are varied.
Rest assured that as she transits to a full set of adult teeth by about 12 years old, sleep bruxism will have ceased in most cases. However, if sleep bruxism persists and significant wear is noted on the permanent teeth, dental mouthguards can be specially made to protect her teeth. You may wish to discuss this with your paediatric dentist.
Source : Thomson Medical Centre, MYB April 2016
About the Author
Dr Tabitha Chng aspires to provide kids with the best level of care whilst in a safe and friendly environment. She particularly enjoys guiding anxious children towards developing an excitement for their dental visits. Combined with a bubbly personality, she simply loves getting to know her patients and their parents and growing together with them.
Read more about her.
Dr. Tabitha Chng
Thomson Medical Centre