Skip to main content

Understanding Teeth Grinding in Children

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is common in children and can occur during the day or night. It typically manifests as a repetitive grinding or clenching of the teeth. While many children outgrow this condition, and do not usually need treatment, it can sometimes lead to dental and orthodontic issues if not addressed.

Causes of Teeth Grinding in Kids

  1. Teething and Jaw Growth:
    • Teething: As baby teeth come in or permanent teeth start to emerge, children may grind their teeth to alleviate discomfort.
    • Jaw Development: Changes and growth in the jaw can lead to temporary misalignment, causing bruxism.
  2. Stress and Anxiety:
    • Emotional stress, such as changes in routine, school pressures, or family changes, can lead to teeth grinding as a coping mechanism.
  3. Medical Conditions and Medications:
    • Certain medical conditions, like cerebral palsy or ADHD, and medications can increase the likelihood of bruxism.
  4. Sleep Disorders:
    • Conditions like sleep apnea can contribute to teeth grinding during sleep.
  5. Adenoids and ENT Issues:
    • Enlarged adenoids or other ENT (ear, nose, and throat) issues can cause breathing difficulties during sleep, potentially leading to bruxism. An ENT assessment can help identify and address these underlying issues.

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding in Kids

  • Audible grinding or clenching noises during sleep
  • Complaints of jaw pain or facial discomfort, especially upon waking
  • Headaches or earaches not related to illness
  • Worn or chipped teeth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity

Potential Effects on Dental Health

  1. Tooth Damage:
    • Persistent grinding can wear down enamel, chip teeth, and cause increased sensitivity.
  2. Jaw Pain:
    • Continuous clenching can lead to jaw pain or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
  3. Orthodontic Issues:
    • Bruxism can cause or exacerbate misalignment, potentially complicating orthodontic treatments.

Managing Teeth Grinding in Kids

  1. Night Guards:
    • Custom-made night guards can protect the teeth from grinding during sleep. These are especially beneficial for children who grind their teeth frequently with evidence of damage to their teeth.
  2. Stress Management:
    • Identifying and addressing sources of stress through relaxation techniques, counseling, or changes in routine can help reduce bruxism.
  3. ENT Assessment:
    • If enlarged adenoids or other ENT issues are suspected, an assessment by an ENT specialist can determine if these conditions are contributing to bruxism. Treatment for ENT issues can improve breathing during sleep and reduce grinding.
  4. Regular Dental Check-Ups:
    • Routine visits to the dentist are essential for monitoring the effects of grinding on dental health and implementing timely interventions.
  5. Orthodontic Evaluation:
    • An orthodontist can assess whether teeth grinding is causing or is likely to cause misalignment and recommend appropriate treatments or appliances.

Orthodontic Effects and Treatments

Braces and Aligners:

  • Orthodontic treatments like palatal expansion, braces or clear aligners can help correct any misalignment caused by bruxism. These appliances also realign the jaw, potentially reducing the occurrence of grinding.

Orthodontic Appliances:

  • For younger children, certain orthodontic appliances can guide jaw growth and help prevent or mitigate the effects of bruxism.


Teeth grinding in children is a common condition that can have various causes and effects on dental health. While many children outgrow bruxism, it is essential to monitor and manage it to prevent potential dental and orthodontic issues. Regular dental check-ups, stress management, and the use of protective devices like night guards can help mitigate the effects of teeth grinding. Additionally, addressing any underlying ENT issues through an assessment and treatment can significantly reduce bruxism.

For personalised advice and treatment options, contact Broadbeach Orthodontics. We specialise in managing bruxism and its impact on dental and orthodontic health, ensuring your child maintains a healthy smile.

Leave a Reply