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Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism, is commonly observed in children. This condition involves the involuntary clenching or grinding of teeth, which can occur both during sleep and while awake. 


In mild cases of bruxism, treatment may not be necessary. However, severe cases can lead to tooth wear and damage, gum pain, jaw pain, and headaches. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly evaluate the causes of teeth grinding in children and examine the symptoms to determine the appropriate treatment.


Let's explore the frequently asked questions about teeth grinding in children.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Teeth Gr'nd'ng

What is Teeth Grinding?

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can be caused by physical, psychological, or genetic factors. Bruxism is common in young children and tends to decrease as they grow older. According to academic studies, the prevalence of teeth grinding during sleep in children ranges from 13% to 49%.


Children may grind or clench their teeth involuntarily during the day or at night while sleeping. Daytime grinding is generally easier for parents to detect compared to nighttime grinding. To identify night-time teeth-grinding, parents can observe their children while they sleep and listen for grinding sounds.

If left untreated, teeth grinding in children, especially in severe cases, can lead to dental and oral health issues later in life. Therefore, it is recommended that parents consult a dentist if they observe teeth-grinding behavior in their children.

Why Do Children Grind Their Teeth?

Several factors can contribute to teeth grinding in children. Let's explore these reasons together:

  1. Incorrect Tooth Alignment: When teeth are not properly aligned, children may struggle while chewing or clenching, leading to teeth grinding. Moreover, an improperly positioned jaw can prevent proper contact between teeth, causing grinding.

  2. Structural or Acquired Dental Issues: Structural problems in the mouth and teeth are major contributors to teeth grinding in children. For instance, high fillings in baby teeth can interfere with normal tooth contact during closure, leading to grinding. Painful or sensitive decayed teeth can also cause children to grind their teeth during sleep. Abnormally long or high teeth that prevent normal closure can be another structural issue leading to grinding.

  3. Tooth Development: The most common reason for teeth grinding in infants is tooth development. Babies may grind teeth to alleviate gum discomfort and explore their new teeth. This behavior is normal and usually temporary.

  4. Stress, Anxiety, and HabitsFeeling stressed or anxious is a significant trigger for teeth grinding in children. Exam anxiety, family problems, or conflicts with parents or siblings can initiate grinding or clenching behavior. Some children develop teeth grinding as a habit and may do it unconsciously.

  5. Genetics: Certain studies suggest that specific genes may increase the propensity for teeth grinding during sleep. These genes can affect sleep patterns, stress responses, or the activity of the jaw muscles.

What Are the Symptoms of Teeth Grinding in Children?

Teeth grinding in children can present with various symptoms. One of the most common signs of bruxism observed during sleep is the grinding noise made by the teeth. If your child grinds their teeth while sleeping and this habit has persisted for a while, and if you notice one or more of the following symptoms, it is advisable to consult a dentist.


  • Audible grinding sounds during sleep.

  • Complaints of jaw or facial pain, especially after waking up.

  • Elevated tooth sensitivity or pain.

  • Unexplained wear or damage to the teeth.

  • Frequent headaches, particularly in the morning.

  • Disrupted sleep or frequent waking.

  • Identifying and addressing these symptoms early can help prevent further dental issues and provide relief for your child.

How Is Teeth Grinding Treated in Children?


1. Night Guard (Mouthguard)

If your child experiences pain in their face, jaw, or teeth due to teeth grinding, a dentist may recommend the use of a night guard during sleep. Also known as a teeth-grinding device, the night guard is similar to the mouthguards worn by athletes to protect their teeth. It prevents the teeth from coming into contact with each other, thereby reducing damage caused by grinding and clenching.


2. Replacing Fillings

If teeth grinding is thought to be caused by dental fillings, the dentist can check and adjust your child's fillings as needed.

  • High fillings can be shortened.

  • Broken or damaged fillings can be replaced.

  • Misaligned fillings can be corrected.


3. Psychological Support

Stress and anxiety are among the most common triggers for teeth grinding. Here are some ways to help manage your child's stress and anxiety:

  • Identify what is causing your child stress and work together to reduce it.

  • If managing stress and anxiety proves difficult, seek help from a psychologist or therapist.

  • A healthy diet can also increase stress resistance.


By addressing both the physical and psychological aspects of teeth grinding, you can help alleviate your child's discomfort and prevent further dental issues.

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