Can a Child Wear a Dental Night Guard?
Short answer: Ask your dentist. Recommended use for children varies greatly.
As parents, we deal with miniature crisis’ all the time–scraped knees, growing pains, hunger pains, sick days, and everything in between. These common issues have aided us in becoming pretty proficient in what to do when unexpected situations arise, but when faced with child teeth grinding, there seems to be a lack of clarity, understanding and call-to-action.
Here, we attempt to answer the most common questions regarding teeth grinding or jaw clenching in children under 12.
What causes teeth grinding in children?
As of today, dentists, academics and researchers alike still can’t fully agree on the reason we grind our teeth. It is generally agreed upon, however, that stress & anxiety are contributing factors.
Is there anything I can do to lower the chances of my child grinding his/her teeth?
There could be some things in your child’s environment that trigger instances of teeth grinding. Some tips to create a calmer environment include:
- It sounds cliche! But, minimize everyday stress. Plan ahead. Make lunches the night before school. Lay out clothes ahead of time. Get up on time in the morning. Understand the needs of your children and meet them.
- Parents! Get control of your own anxiety. Your kids are “mini-you’s”. Lead by example.
- Create a calm and soothing bedroom. Listen to your child and let them have a hand in decorating their own bedroom. Choose their favorite colors and consider low lighting.
- Exercising every day and healthy eating. Less sugar.
- Positive reinforcement instead of negative.
- Reading books before bed.
Is there perhaps another reason my child is grinding (or clenching) his/her teeth?
One of the more common possibilities that are being explored has to deal with the growth phases of a child’s teeth and jaw. During the nascent stages of development, a child’s top and bottom set of teeth do not fit together comfortably. The instinctive response that some children have because of this fact is to grind their teeth to provide a respite from the discomfort that they may be experiencing.
Some children tend to outgrow the habit of teeth grinding. Other children may develop an attachment to the habit and carry it well into adulthood.
Ok. So how do I stop his/her teeth grinding?
You should know that there is no known cure for teeth grinding. Many children will outgrow the habit by age 12. Your first step is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. The dentist may suggest your child wear a custom night guard.
There seems to be a lot of contradictory information as far as what age is acceptable for a child to wear a night guard to bed.
Ask your dentist to see what he/she recommends.
Is there a choking risk?
There does not appear to be any choking risk from wearing a dental night guard.
Here is a great forum about dental night guard use from real users with personal experiences.
Custom Made Dental Night Guards
- Far more superior to athletic mouth guards or OTC (over-the-counter, or mass produced)
- Guaranteed proper and comfortable fit
- The dental anatomy in children is constantly changing, so you’ll need to replace them frequently to maintain an exact fit.
So what to do now?
Being a parent, you would immediately want to acquire a clear-cut solution to the teeth grinding challenges that your child is currently facing.
The first thing that you should do is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. An initial consultation with an established dental practitioner may yield a few solutions for this specific occurrence.
So, can a child wear a dental night guard?
The most common solution that dentists may prescribe is to have your child use a dental night guard while he / she sleeps. The decision to employ a dental night guard can prevent your child from forming permanent damage from grinding his / her teeth. Remember: teeth don’t grow back.
Risks and precautions
While a dental night guard may seem like an ideal solution for your child’s teeth grinding problems, there are still a few caveats that you must take into account.
Some children may not feel comfortable using a mouth guard at night. The sense of discomfort that they experience could interfere with their sleeping patterns. Even if your child doesn’t have any issues with using a dental night guard, there are still a few things that you need to watch out for.
Once you spot that the form of the dental night guard has become irregular, stop using the device and acquire a replacement as soon as possible.
Some children may experience oral irritation because of frequent utilization of a dental night guard. Before you have your child use the device, make sure that you check his / her gums for any mouth sores or other oral lesions.
Given the nature of appliance, dental night guards tend to accumulate a considerable amount of bacteria over a period of time. You must be rigorous when it comes to sanitizing the dental night guard that your child uses on a daily basis.
Over the course of using the night guard, make sure that you get to schedule regular oral exams with your child’s dentist in order to assess the progress that has been made or whether adjustments need to be executed.
Final Thoughts: Can a Child Wear a Dental Night Guard?
It is essential for you to acquire a dental night guard from a reputable dentist or online dental night guard lab. There are a variety of mouth guards that are available on the market and you may be tempted to acquire one, but you run the risk of compromising your child’s safety. While going to a dentist may require you to keep up with a specific amount of cost, you can guarantee that your child will be able to use a well fitted dental night guard that addresses all of his / her needs and preferences.