Childhood headaches are always concerning to parents, especially when they occur on a regular basis. Headaches can occur for a variety of reasons, including anxiety over schoolwork or peer issues and even uncorrected vision problems. But one of the most common sources of childhood headaches is also one of the most commonly overlooked, and it starts right in your child’s mouth.
Chronic bruxism—tooth grinding and clenching—is a common habit that affects about a third of children, often persisting into adulthood. What’s worse, tooth grinding or jaw clenching often occurs at night, making it difficult to self-diagnose. While no one is entirely sure why children tend to grind their teeth, many researchers believe it may occur as a response to anxiety, stress or pain such as an earache. Bruxism also appears to be strongly associated with misaligned teeth that do not fit together properly. Headaches result from jaw muscles that clench tightly while grinding, resulting in muscle tension and soreness.
At Dental Works 4 Kids we have experience in treating bruxism successfully. If your child’s teeth do not line up properly, it’s a good idea to have an evaluation by the Orthodontist. Sometimes gently grinding the surfaces of the teeth to eliminate any raised spots may help teeth meet as they should. We may also prescribe a mouth guard for your child to wear at night that can protect teeth and keep jaw muscles from becoming sore.
There are five steps you can take as well:
Step 1: Listen closely. You may actually be able to hear grating sounds coming from your child’s mouth during sleep.
Step 2: Gently massage your child’s jaw to help loosen stiff muscles.
Step 3: Reduce stress before bed by reading a funny story or engaging in another relaxing ritual.
Step 4: Make sure your child drinks lots of water during the day; some experts believe that dehydration can cause tooth grinding or exacerbate headaches.
Step 5: Have your child visit us regularly. Even when you cannot hear or see evidence of grinding and clenching, we can recognize subtle signs, like tooth wear, left behind by bruxism.
Everyone gets headaches, and an occasional bout is probably nothing to worry about. But if your child suffers from headaches regularly, talk to us to rule out more serious underlying conditions and to help your child be as healthy and pain-free as possible.
About The Author:
Dental Works 4 Kids is a Pediatric & Orthodontic health care specialist in Ontario, CA providing the highest standard of specialized and comprehensive oral healthcare and orthodontics for infants, children, adolescents, and patients with special needs. Dental Works 4 Kids offer a safe and welcoming environment with a focus on education and prevention for families in our community.