Teeth Grinding and Growing Pains

Are you familiar with the term: “growing pains?” More importantly, do you know if growing pains are actually real?

When my son comes home from school with muscle pain, I’ve often wondered if my athletic little nine year old is experiencing growing pains or if he is just hurting from a hard fall. While the term “growing pains” is widely known, the truth behind its meaning isn’t as clear. As children grow older, they might experience what some might call “muscle aches,” but some believe that calling it growing pains is not really accurate.

Similarly, the truth about teeth grinding in children might be a bit of a myth, as I recently discovered. I had noticed that, aside from complaining about muscle aches, my son was also grinding his teeth at night. Knowing how concerning grinding is as an adult (a sign of stress and anxiety), I got worried.

During my son’s regular visit to the dentist I shared my concerns and asked about my son’s grinding. Our dentist, Dr. Aaron Schwartz, explained that when children are growing (between the ages of 1 and 12), their jaws adjust and make room for bigger teeth that will grow in the mouth. He noted that while grinding is usually a symptom of growth, it can be a sign of stress in teenagers. This however, is not case with younger children.

The notion that my son’s jaw was growing and knowing that grinding at this age is not a reason to be concerned made me feel a lot better. I’m hoping that my son’s grinding will stop, but I’m glad to know that this is temporary and only part of the development of a growing boy.

By Adacelis (Ada) Pérez, APR, CLC

Adacelis (Ada) Pérez is the Author of Anxious Mom, Anxious Child: A Mother’s Journey from Anxiety to Serenity

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