child grinding their teeth

Children (and adults!) often grind their teeth at night while sleeping as well as when they are anxious, angry, stressed, or simply as an idiosyncratic behavior. The technical term is known as bruxism, and it is actually a very common behavior.

Most children do not typically grind their teeth on purpose and are usually not consciously aware that they are even doing it!  It is still not known exactly why so many children grind their teeth but it may be related to stress or anxiety. It may also be mediated by factors such as misaligned teeth, stimulation during teething, and due to textural sensations with the teeth when rubbed together.

Even though grinding doesn’t ultimately lead to long-term issues in most children, it can become a point of concern for some. It can cause significant loss of tooth structure and result in sensitivity and pain. It may also result in broken teeth, gum recession, misalignment & discrepancies between the teeth and/or jaws, and possibly even temporomandibular disorders (problems with the jaw joint).

Below are some signs & symptoms that can help determine if your child is a tooth grinder:

  • You can actually hear or see them grinding their teeth
  • They complain about tooth or jaw pain
  • Headaches or facial pain & soreness
  • Their teeth are becoming more sensitive
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Chipped, broken, or loose teeth


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