How to stop teeth grinding in kids - Essential Help and Advice

Teeth grinding in children, toddlers and babies is an issue that we are increasingly asked to help with. This page aims 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 natural for babies to grind their teeth initially, typically while they are at sleep.

If you hear teeth grinding noises, you should not be overly concerned. Teeth grinding should stop when all milk teeth have erupted.

However, if your child still grinds during the night at the age of five or older, we recommend booking into your nearest paediatric dentist.

What triggers teeth grinding in children?

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

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

Mis-aligned teeth - It could simply be because the top and bottom teeth are not yet appropriately aligned.

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 teacher, bullying, arguing with parents, a new sibling etc.). A relaxed, calm evening routine and discussing the problems daily with your child can help to reduce the grinding in these cases.

Hyperactive children - also may show signs of teeth grinding.

Other medical conditions - some medical conditions (e.g. cerebral palsy) or medications can increase your child’s chances of having bruxism.

How to stop a child from grinding their teeth at night

In general, teeth grinding (bruxism) should stop during puberty; if not, a children's night guard is needed to prevent teeth from 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 reasonably quickly if they are used as prescribed.

What is the impact of bruxism?

Excessive teeth grinding can 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 shouldn't be ignored

TThe primary symptoms 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 earache, 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 child's stress by having a conversation and then take the appropriate actions to help reduce their stress.
  • Ensure your child is eating a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Ensure your child drinks plenty of water - dehydration may also cause teeth grinding.
  • Speak to a pediatric dentist - if you have any concerns about your child's teeth please speak to your local children's dentist or contact us for expert help.

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.