My Child Complains of Jaw Pain. Could Teeth Grinding Be the Culprit?

Know what is causing your child's jaw pain

Your dentist can diagnose and treat your child’s jaw pain.

Has your child ever mentioned feeling soreness or pain in or around their jaw from time to time? The pain might arise seemingly at random and persist for various amounts of time or only show up when they’re eating.

In either case, this is a disconcerting situation for any parent to be in. The causes of jaw pain aren’t always immediately clear, and you could find yourself without a clear path forward. However, teeth grinding could be a major factor, and there are steps you can take to help your child if that’s the case.

What You Can Do if Your Child Complains of Jaw Pain

Jaw pain is often a sign of a larger dental issue that can have other effects as well, so don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your child’s dentist as soon as you can. 

They’ll carry out an evaluation to find the source of the discomfort and provide a range of treatment options, depending on your child’s individual needs.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help your child. Giving them softer foods can help provide relief, depending on the underlying cause of their jaw pain. You can also use ice packs to help bring down any inflammation in the jaw. Have your child hold the ice pack against the side of their face for short periods of time.

Causes of Jaw Pain in Kids

Jaw pain can arise from a variety of causes. In many cases, the cause can fall under the umbrella of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joint attaches the lower jawbone to the skull and allows for a high level of freedom of movement. However, this complex and important joint can develop issues fairly easily.

Your child could be experiencing TMD due to anxiety, which can cause your child to clench their jaw and grind their teeth, putting significant strain on the muscles surrounding the joint. These muscles can become inflamed, causing soreness and pain. 

Physical injuries and conditions such as arthritis can also affect the joint, or the issue could be due to cavities or decay in teeth near the back of your child’s mouth. This pain can’t easily be distinguished from jaw pain in many cases, which is an important reason why you need to have a dentist find out the true cause behind your child’s pain.

What is bruxism?

One of the most significant causes of jaw pain in children is bruxism—grinding teeth during sleep. Around 15% of children experience bruxism, and it can lead to joint pain and a wide range of other issues as well.

The constant grinding puts stress on the temporomandibular joint and the muscles surrounding it, leading to soreness or even sharp pain throughout the day with no clear cause. Bruxism also wears down your child’s teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and even causing cracks and chips.

A night guard is often an effective treatment option for bruxism. It provides a soft barrier between the upper and lower arches of teeth, preventing them from grinding and wearing each other down. This can help relieve jaw pain and ensure your child’s long-term oral health.

Malocclusion could be behind your child’s issues.

Bruxism has its own set of underlying causes, which often include stress and malocclusion. Malocclusion is the technical term for misalignment, and it can refer to a variety of different types of crowding issues or an uneven bite.

In this case, your child grinds their teeth because they don’t sit together properly when their mouth is closed. In addition to grinding and its consequences, malocclusion can also impact the way your child speaks and eats, increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, and affect your child’s self-confidence.

However, there are a variety of orthodontic treatments that can help resolve your child’s malocclusion. Along with braces for older children and teenagers, there are also early orthodontic interventions that can ensure the healthy development of teeth for younger children.

Finding the Treatment Your Child Needs

If your child is experiencing jaw pain, grinding their teeth, or showing other signs of malocclusion, the best thing you can do is visit their dentist to find out more about the situation and decide on the best treatment plan available.

You can visit the best kid’s dentist in Vancouver, WA, for a complete evaluation of your child’s teeth and oral health to identify any issues. Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry can provide the pediatric orthodontics your child may need to relieve jaw pain and avoid long-term damage to their teeth. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.