How do I stop my 4 year old son from grinding his teeth while he is sleeping?
I had a problem with grinding my teeth when I was young. It led to a lot of dental work in later years, which could have been avoided with a little bit of behavioral modification.
If your child is grinding his teeth in his sleep, he's probably also grinding his teeth while awake. You may not notice it, because while sleeping, you tend to do it louder simply because you aren't aware of the noise that you're making. You will be doing him a huge favor if you can get it to stop now.
First, show your child how to park his tongue so that grinding won't happen. This is done by placing the tip of your tongue directly behind your upper front teeth. This has to become a habit any time he wanders off in his mind, or is otherwise engrossed by something. It's a trick my dentist taught me, which brings me to the dentist.
See a dentist soon. The dentist will be able to tell you the extent of the grinding, and give you a splint for your child to use while sleeping. The splint is extremely uncomfortable, so the trick really is to break the habit while awake.
Once the adult teeth come in, grinding becomes extremely problematic as it wears down the enamel layer over time, which can quickly lead to easy staining or decay. It will take a little time, but you can nip the habit before that happens.
They probably make a mouth guard for children - I'd ask your dentist. I assume like adults there is no way to prevent the grinding - only ways to prevent tooth damage.
Relaxation exercises before bed can help as well as holding a cork in the front teeth for 1 minute before bed. This relaxes the jaw muscles.
Definitely check with a Doctor or Dentist.