Children and Teeth Grinding – An Overview for Parents


Teeth grinding (bruxism) is one of the more common issues amongst children. Often the issue goes undetected until a paediatric dentist observes the symptoms during a routine check-up. The reasons why children grind their teeth are not well understood, but it is believed that stress, anxiety and nervous habits may play a role. It is also possible that your child’s teeth may be misaligned, or they may be grinding their teeth to get relief from pain or discomfort. To help you identify the symptoms of bruxism and assist your child in maintaining good oral health, we have prepared a brief blog post highlighting typical symptoms and treatment options.


What is bruxism, and why do children grind their teeth?

Bruxism is a term used by dentists to describe clenching of the jaw and teeth grinding. It is a condition which affects people of all ages, with many carrying the habit from childhood into adulthood. People may grind their teeth when they feel stressed or anxious, whilst others may do so out of habit or due to malocclusion.

How can I tell if my child is grinding their teeth?

It’s not always easy to spot the signs of bruxism, but as a parent there are a few things you can do to identify the issue early. You may notice the following symptoms in your child:

  • Audible sounds – grinding/rubbing/chattering
  • Peculiar mouth movements
  • Complaints of headaches or earaches
  • A sore or stiff jaw
  • Clenched teeth when focussed on an activity

It is not uncommon for those who have bruxism to be completely unaware of the fact they are clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth. It is important to visit the dentist on a frequent basis so that any issues can be identified, and an appropriate treatment plan put in place.

Should I be concerned about teeth grinding?

Bruxism can lead to increased tooth sensitivity, enamel wear, jaw issues such as TMJ and other dental complications. Children who grind their teeth may complain of pain around their ears or a persistent headache, which is caused due to the pressure of grinding and clenching their teeth. Teeth grinding also wears down the protective enamel, which can lead to increased sensitivity to hot/cold foods and make chewing uncomfortable. The good news is that with early intervention, serious long-term effects can be avoided.

How is bruxism in children treated?

Treatment is generally straightforward, with regular orthodontic visits and observation helping to control the problem. In more problematic cases, the following treatment options may be used:

  • Custom night mouth guards to prevent teeth grinding during sleep
  • Braces to correct any alignment issues
  • If bruxism is related to stress, therapy or counselling may be necessary

Specialist Kids Dentist – Your Local Paediatric Dentist in Liverpool and Summer Hill

As a leading children’s dentist, Specialist Kids Dentist have a wealth of experience in treating bruxism. If you have noticed your child grinding their teeth or wish to book a routine check-up, please schedule an appointment today by calling 02 9600 6848. We look forward to seeing you soon.