Experts answer questions on how to alleviate teeth grinding issues with your child.

Q: My seven-year-old son has been grinding his teeth while sleeping.

It occurs frequently throughout the night. My concern is that it will affect his dental development as he is starting to lose his baby teeth.

Can this be resolved without putting on any devices but, rather, through homeopathy treatment? If that is not possible, what can be done? We will be glad to see a doctor if necessary, but we do not know which specialist to go to.

The sound of his grinding teeth is currently affecting our sleep.

A: Your complaint is very common, especially the part where you are being kept awake at night. But do not be alarmed. One out of three children do this.

Grinding of teeth during sleep is termed nocturnal bruxism. Some children brux or grind their teeth because of local disturbances, such as "shaky teeth", when they are changing their baby dentition to adult dentition.

Others grind due to psychological reasons such as stress or over-activity in the day.

A small number of children grind their teeth in relation to certain systemic conditions involving, for example, the brain or nerves.

Mostly, we do not know why they grind and even the reasons mentioned here are postulations.

However, we do know that most children tend to outgrow this habit.

Some parents claim that it is helpful to allow the child to have some down time and relaxation before sleep.

Despite the loud noises made by the grinding, most children, surprisingly, have no other dental complaints.

Some wearing of the milk teeth may be noted, but as these are transitional teeth, dentists are not overly concerned by it, unless the wearing down of the teeth is excessive and causes sensitivity.

A small proportion of child grinders become adult grinders and it has been noted that if one parent has the same habit, there is a small chance their child will.

Pediatric dentists seldom recommend mouthguards in a child with growing and changing dentition.

Dr Bien Lai, Associate consultant at the paediatric dentistry unit at the department of restorative dentistry at National Dental Centre Singapore

Source: The Straits Times, 22 June 2016 © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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