Guide to Bruxism in Teenagers

Teenager suffering from bruxism with sore jaw touching her cheek.

Whether you’re the person experiencing it, or the loved one listening to it, bruxism is not fun for anyone involved. From achy jaws, sensitive teeth and those spine-chilling grinding noises, it’s a challenge faced by many Australians every day. In fact, it’s been found that around half of the population grind their teeth from time to time, and a whopping 5% are regular tooth grinders! 

Many think that teeth grinding is most common for on-the-go adults, but in actual fact, it’s also very common in teens! The teenage years can be a tricky time to navigate, filled with academic pressure, demanding schedules, social changes and strict deadlines. For some teens, this stress can manifest itself in the form of teeth grinding. If you think your teen could be battling with bruxism, here’s a guide on what to do! 

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is the involuntary clenching, grinding, gritting or gnashing of the teeth. Often, symptoms are not immediately noticeable, and teens can live completely unaware that they’re grinding their teeth! Contrary to popular belief, bruxism is not exclusively a case of grinding teeth at night (nocturnal bruxism), it can also occur throughout the day. While it may be less common, daytime bruxism is just as damaging as its nocturnal counterpart.

When it comes to the causes of bruxism, there are many potential risk factors, including: 

  • Stress – If your teen is particularly stressed or anxious, angry or frustrated. 
  • Medications or substances – Bruxism can potentially be a side effect of some medications, smoking tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, or using recreational drugs. 
  • Family members with bruxism – Nocturnal bruxism can actually run in the family. If you have a history of bruxism, your teen may too! 

What are the signs of bruxism? 

Determining whether your teen grinds their teeth can be especially challenging due to the fact that symptoms take a while to emerge. If you’re concerned that your teen could be battling with bruxism, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:   

  • Sore jaw muscles 
  • Increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold 
  • Limited jaw movement 
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches
  • Earache
  • Disrupted sleep 
  • Sores or marks on the inner cheeks or outer tongue

What are the risks of bruxism? 

When it comes to bruxism, the negative impacts appear in stages, so early detection is essential. Seemingly mild symptoms often indicate that there’s worse damage being done to your teen’s teeth. If bruxism goes undiagnosed or swept under the rug for too long, it can result in more serious problems that require extensive dental repair. Remember, the earlier the symptoms, the simpler it is to treat. 

The greatest risk of teeth grinding is the wearing down of tooth enamel. Unfortunately, tooth enamel does not regenerate, so it needs to be protected. What’s more, extended bruxism can result in damage like chipping and cracking, making the teeth more vulnerable to decay and loss. Undiagnosed bruxism can also have long-term impacts on the jaw, such as restricted movement and clicking. 

How do you treat bruxism?

We all know the importance of brushing and flossing, though no amount of brushing your teeth will cure bruxism! Early detection is key, so if you think your teen could have bruxism, it is crucial to seek advice from a professional. For preventative measures to be put in place, an oral assessment should be booked. During this assessment, the dentist will check your teen’s mouth and teeth for the signs of bruxism. If signs are present, they will design a bruxism treatment plan of action. Depending on the severity, this could look like a custom-made splint to protect the teeth or even some restorative treatment. 

At TLC Dental, we’re passionate about setting teens up with beautiful smiles that are healthy for life. We take a preventative approach to dentistry, so we’ll catch bruxism early in its tracks and give your teen’s teeth the TLC they need. 

Book a dental check-up at one of our five suburbs south of the river, including:

Phone your local clinic above to book in for a check-up today!

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