Help! My Child is Grinding Their Teeth!


The sound of grinding teeth is awful, and it can be a bit frightening to hear your child do it, particularly when they grind while sleeping, but is it something to worry about?

Can it cause lasting problems? Is it something a child will grow out of?


The official name for grinding teeth is called bruxism, and this condition includes clenching, grinding or gnashing teeth, while asleep or awake. As many as 3 out of 10 kids grind or clench, but many outgrow it. The most common times for teeth grinding are when baby teeth emerge and when permanent teeth come in. There are many suspected reasons for grinding and many times it does not cause harm, but it definitely should be monitored. In most instances, it is important to speak with a dentist about a child’s grinding or clenching.

Grinding is a natural reaction to growth and development, and toddlers and young children may use it to relieve pain caused by shifting of teeth as permanent teeth come in. In this situation bruxism is temporary and often stops when the pain does. Normally it is harmless and does not need treatment but is still worth mentioning to your child’s dentist at their regular checkup.

Some kids continue grinding or clenching through adolescence and there are many reasons they may do so. Possible causes range from improperly aligned teeth, to sleep disorders, anger, stress or anxiety. Bruxism has been seen in patients with acid reflux, autism, cerebral palsy, and hyperactivity.


Clenching teeth or grinding may also be a habit during intense concentration or heavy labor. Reading and writing, driving and lifting heavy objects are all common times for a person to clench their teeth.

So, other than sounding terrible, how can it impact your child? The most common symptoms of grinding are a sore face or jaw and headaches. Other common symptoms are tooth pain and sensitivity, and pain when chewing.

Once informing Dr. Culp about the grinding, he will check for proper tooth alignment and wear and tear which may include broken or cracked teeth or chipped enamel. Adolescents may benefit from a night guard after they complete Orthodontics. A night guard is a thin, flexible plastic guard over the upper teeth. It is similar to a mouthguard worn by athletes and protects teeth from damage caused by night grinding.


Depending on the cause, there are things you can do to help lessen your child’s bruxism. If it happens during the day, gently make them aware of what they are doing and remind them not to grind their teeth. Since grinding can be caused by stress, try to alleviate the stressors in your kid’s routine.

If grinding happens at night, do not wake your child when hear them grinding during sleep. This may worsen the problem by disrupting their sleep further, and intensify the problems caused by interrupted sleep.

While it may sound terrible when your child grinds their teeth, it is often temporary and not a reason to worry. However, it is something your child’s dentist should be informed about, so they can monitor the situation and the health of your child’s mouth, as well as help you find solutions to minimize bruxism and related problems.


At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive children’s dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist. At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry, we are proud to turn your child’s dental visit into a jungle-themed adventure that is fun-filled. Dr. John Culp is a board-certified specialist in children’s dentistry. He is an expert in alleviating patient anxiety. He specializes in calming techniques that help ensure that patients remain relaxed during their visit. As a parent of three sons, Dr. Culp understands and has great compassion for children. At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry, we aim to turn every visit to our office into a fun-filled educational safari for all. Now with offices in Gilbert and Phoenix, you can conveniently find a Jungle Roots location near you! Call Today: (480) 759-1119


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