Toothache From Grinding or Clenching Teeth

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When you understand HOW and WHY things happen, your actions for treatment and prevention are vastly improved.

If you just want to know WHAT ACTIONS TO TAKE, scroll down.

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Some children are notorious for grinding their teeth. Sometimes parents are kept awake at night by the horrible sounds this can make.

Emergencies - Potential causes

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Abnormal bite or crooked teeth
  • Sleep
  • An instinctive response to keep airways open

Emergencies - Symptoms

  • Generalized pain around the mouth area, usually dull or low-grade.
  • Some teeth may be very tender to chew on.
  • Headache may accompany these types of toothaches.
  • Young children especially are reported to make horrendous noises while grinding teeth.
  • Abrading away of tooth structure. This is a permanent loss of tooth material.

Emergencies - Relieve pain

Tooth grinding can occur any time, but is more frequent during sleep. Therefore, it may be more difficult to relieve this pain. Things you can try include:

  • Any OTC (Over The Counter) medicine you might give your child for a headache, but NOT aspirin. Aspirin can cause damage to young children and bleeding problems. Standard OTC pain relievers can include Acetaminophen (example: Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (examples: Motrin or Advil).
  • Warm packs on the outside of the face.
  • Massage to relieve muscle stress, which in turn may reduce pressure on the teeth.

Emergencies - What to do

This is usually not a dental emergency unless it persists for several days. Call your dentist to consult with them if the problem persists. Children very often grow out of this habit and no treatment may be necessary unless damage to teeth is occurring. Again, long-term decisions need to be made between you and your child’s dentist.

Back to the List of Emergencies Page

NOTE: Any recommendations given can only be construed as general information. It is impossible for me to know your specific circumstances. I am not your family’s personal dentist. This material should NOT be used to diagnose the presence or absence of any particular ailment. This information is not intended to be a substitute for the services of a locally qualified dental health care professional. Any application of the material found on this website is at the reader’s discretion and is her or his sole responsibility. If there is any question, contact your dentist or other qualified dental health care professional.
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