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Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common issue among children that can cause various dental problems if left unchecked. It often occurs during sleep and can lead to tooth wear, jaw pain, and other complications. Understanding the causes of teeth grinding and implementing effective strategies can help manage and reduce this behavior. In this blog post, we will explore why children grind their teeth and offer practical tips for stopping this habit.

Understanding Teeth Grinding in Children

What Is Teeth Grinding?

  • Definition: Bruxism is the involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth. It often happens during sleep but can also occur when a child is awake.
  • Prevalence: Teeth grinding is common in children, affecting up to 30% of them, especially during the early years.

Common Causes of Teeth Grinding

  • Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress or anxiety can lead to bruxism. Changes in routine, family dynamics, or school pressures may contribute.
  • Teething Pain: Younger children might grind their teeth to relieve the discomfort associated with teething.
  • Misaligned Teeth: Dental issues, such as an abnormal bite or misaligned teeth, can cause grinding.
  • Medical Conditions: Conditions like cerebral palsy or certain medications can contribute to bruxism.
  • Sleep Disorders: Sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances can be linked to teeth grinding.

Signs and Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

What to Look For

  • Audible Grinding: Grinding sounds during sleep are often the most noticeable sign.
  • Worn Teeth: Flat or worn-down teeth may indicate bruxism.
  • Jaw Pain: Complaints of jaw soreness or headaches, especially upon waking, can be symptoms.
  • Ear Pain: Some children might experience ear pain due to the pressure and tension from grinding.
  • Disturbed Sleep: Grinding can interfere with restful sleep, leading to tiredness or irritability during the day.

Effective Strategies to Stop Teeth Grinding

1. Address Underlying Stress and Anxiety

Create a Calm Environment

  • Bedtime Routine: Establish a calming bedtime routine that includes activities like reading, a warm bath, or gentle music.
  • Open Communication: Talk to your child about their day and any concerns they might have to alleviate stress.

Teach Relaxation Techniques

  • Breathing Exercises: Teach your child simple deep-breathing exercises to reduce anxiety.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Guide them through progressive muscle relaxation techniques before bed.

2. Manage Teething Pain

Relieve Discomfort

  • Teething Toys: Provide teething rings or toys to help soothe sore gums.
  • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress to the gums to reduce inflammation and discomfort.

Consult a Pediatric Dentist

  • Professional Advice: Seek guidance from a pediatric dentist on managing teething pain effectively.

3. Correct Dental Issues

Regular Dental Check-Ups

  • Dental Evaluation: Schedule regular dental check-ups to identify and address any dental issues such as misaligned teeth or bite problems.
  • Mouthguards: In some cases, a dentist might recommend a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect teeth from grinding at night.

Orthodontic Treatment

  • Braces: Consider orthodontic treatment if misalignment is a contributing factor.

4. Improve Sleep Hygiene

Promote Good Sleep Habits

  • Consistent Schedule: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule with a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Sleep Environment: Ensure the sleep environment is comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions.

Address Sleep Disorders

  • Medical Evaluation: Consult a healthcare professional if you suspect sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.

5. Monitor and Limit Caffeine Intake

Reduce Stimulants

  • Avoid Caffeine: Limit your child’s intake of caffeinated beverages and foods, especially in the evening.

Promote Relaxation

  • Herbal Teas: Offer caffeine-free herbal teas that promote relaxation before bed.

When to Seek Professional Help

Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

  • Persistent Pain: If your child experiences ongoing jaw or tooth pain, consult a dentist.
  • Severe Grinding: If grinding is severe or causing significant damage to the teeth, professional intervention is necessary.
  • Behavioral Concerns: If stress or anxiety appears to be affecting your child’s overall well-being, consider consulting a pediatric psychologist or counselor.

Dental Interventions

Contact our friendly team at Walsh Dental, If you think your child is grinding their teeth.


Q: Is teeth grinding in children a serious problem?

  • A: While it’s common and often outgrown, persistent teeth grinding can cause dental issues and may require intervention to prevent damage and alleviate pain.

Q: Can teeth grinding affect my child’s permanent teeth?

  • A: Yes, if not addressed, bruxism can wear down permanent teeth and cause long-term dental problems.

Q: Are there natural remedies for teeth grinding?

  • A: Relaxation techniques, a proper sleep environment, and managing stress are natural ways to reduce teeth grinding. Always consult a professional for persistent issues.


Teeth grinding in children, though often temporary, can lead to significant dental problems if left untreated. By understanding the causes and symptoms of bruxism, you can take proactive steps to manage and reduce this behavior. Addressing stress, managing teething pain, correcting dental issues, improving sleep hygiene, and seeking professional advice when necessary are key strategies for protecting your child’s oral health. With the right approach, you can help your child overcome teeth grinding and ensure they maintain a healthy, pain-free smile.