Occasional teeth-grinding or clenching that isn’t causing your child any problems doesn’t need treatment. But if teeth-grinding keeps going, it can lead to headaches, tooth pain or jaw pain or your child’s teeth wearing down. If you notice your child doing it often, it’s a good idea to get advice from your dentist.
Your dentist might give your child some tips on how to reduce teeth-grinding or recommend an appliance your child can wear at night to protect their teeth from grinding.
When the teeth and jaw don’t line up properly, it can cause problems including gum damage, abnormal tooth wear and speech problems. Teenagers whose teeth and jaws don’t line up might also have trouble getting their teeth clean.
Your child might see an orthodontist for treatment to help bring their teeth and jaw into line with each other.
If your child has braces or other orthodontic appliances, it’s really important for your child to pay particular attention to brushing teeth and flossing.
Knocking out an adult tooth and other teeth injuries
Injuries to your child’s face and teeth can happen when they’re playing sport, skateboarding, riding bikes and so on. It’s a good idea to see a doctor or dentist if your child damages their teeth or face, especially if a tooth is bumped, broken or moved out of its usual position.
If your child knocks out an adult tooth, there are a few things you and your child can do that might stop your child from losing the tooth permanently:
- Find the tooth.
- Hold the tooth by the top (‘crown’), not the roots.
- If the tooth is dirty, rinse it in milk or saline (salt and water) solution for a few seconds. Don’t rinse the tooth with water.
- Don’t let the tooth dry out.
- Put the tooth back in its socket immediately.
- Hold the tooth in place with aluminium foil. If you don’t have any aluminium foil handy, your child can bite down gently on a clean cloth – for example, a handkerchief or cotton flannel.
- Take your child to the dentist or a hospital emergency department immediately. Time is critical.
If for some reason you can’t replace the tooth in its socket – for example, if your child is unconscious or distressed – put the tooth in milk or saline solution, or wrap it in plastic cling film and see your dentist or go to an emergency department immediately.
If your child chips or fractures a tooth, keep the piece of tooth and store it in milk. See your dentist immediately.
If your child plays sport, check the sport’s rules and recommendations about mouth guards. In many junior sports with a high risk of face contact or head injury, wearing a mouth guard or other protective equipment is compulsory.
There are 3 types of mouth guards:
- ‘boil and bite’, which mould around your child’s teeth and jawbone
- customised, which are made by a dental professional.
Customised mouth guards are the most comfortable and provide the best protection because they’re made specially to fit your child’s teeth and jaws.
When choosing a mouth guard, look for one that:
- is thick enough (4 mm) to provide protection against impact
- fits snugly and is comfortable
- is odourless and tasteless
- allows normal breathing and swallowing
- allows normal speech.
To keep the mouth guard clean and in good shape, your child can:
- rinse the mouth guard before each use, and brush it with a non-abrasive toothpaste afterwards
- clean it once in a while in soapy water, making sure to rinse it thoroughly
- carry the mouth guard in a container that has vents
- avoid leaving the mouth guard in the sun or in hot water.
Take the mouth guard along to your child’s dental visits to make sure it still fits correctly. Your child might need a new mouth guard when changes happen in their mouth – for example, when adult teeth come through.
Mouth guards need to be worn during training sessions and during match play if there’s any risk of your child getting a knock or falling.