Teeth grinding in Kids - Essential Help and Advice

Due to the fact that teeth grinding in children is an issue that we are increasingly asked to help with, the advice on this page is aimed at helping parents understand the causes, symptoms and potential solutions available.

The technical term for teeth grinding and the sounds of gnashing teeth is bruxism. It is a natural habit for babies to initially grind their teeth, typically while they are at sleep. Therefore, if you hear teeth grinding noises you should not be overly concerned.

However teeth grinding should stop when all milk teeth have erupted. If your child still grinds during the night at the age of five or older we recommend to see your dentist.

What triggers teeth grinding?

Opinion is still divided amongst pediatric dentists about why bruxism happens. However, the most popular causes are outlined below:

Pain - In many cases it is a sub-concious response to pain such as ear or toothache / teething

Mis-aligned teeth- it could simply because the top and bottom teeth are not yet aligned properly.

Stress - Frequently bruxism can also be caused by stress such as changes in the domestic environment or school related problems. (e.g. new school test, a new school teacher, bullying, arguing with parents, a new sibling etc). A relaxed calm evening routine and discussing daily problems with your child can help to reduce the grinding in these cases.

Hyperactive children - also may show signs of teeth grinding

Other medical conditions - there are also some medical conditions (e.g. cerebral palsy) or medications that can increase the chances of your child having bruxism.

In general bruxism should stop during puberty, if not then a night guard is needed to prevent teeth getting worn down.

What is the impact of bruxism?

Excessive teeth grinding can actually wear down or even fracture the teeth. Excessive clenching of the teeth also puts extra pressure on the muscles and tissue around the jaw.

Symptoms that shouldnt be ignored

This main symptons that can occur which may need further investigation (please do not hesitate to contact us for advice) include:

  • Your child having difficulty sleeping or waking frequently
  • Dull headaches
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Teeth showing signs of wear
  • Tissue damage in the mouth

Other symptoms to look out for include ear ache, depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Please note many children may grind their teeth without any of the symptons above.

Tooth Grinding in Children

How parents can help beat bruxism

  • Reduce your child's stress - Try and investigate the cause of your childs stress by talking with your child and then take the appropriate actions to help reduce this stress
  • Ensure your child is eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Ensure your child drinks pleny of water - as dehydration may cause teeth grinding
  • Speak to a pediatric dentist - If you have any concerns about your childs teeth please speak to your local children's dentist or contact us for expert help.

Stopping teeth grinding in children

In general teeth grinding (bruxism) should stop during puberty, if not then a children's night guard is needed to prevent teeth getting worn down. The night guard is similar to the protective mouthpieces worn by athletes and is moulded to your child's teeth.

Nightguards may take some time for your child to get used to, but you should see improvements fairly quickly if they are used as prescribed.

Find our more about stopping teeth grinding

To speak to an expert about child teeth grinding or to make an appointment for your child to help stop their teeth grinding, please call our award-winning children's dental team on 020 8831 6870.