My child grinds their teeth!

My child grinds their teeth a lot. Is that normal?

As a pediatric dentist, many parents come in to the office concerned about their child grinding their teeth at night. They complain how loud it and are worried that their son/daughter is going to break their teeth. They often ask what they can do and if this is alright. The short answer is that most kids grind their teeth and generally grow out it by 7-8 years of age without any intervention. Very few children end up with symptoms from childhood grinding. Very few children experience any sensitivity or other symptoms as a result of the grinding.

Bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding) in adults is often the result of stress and anxiety. However, in children nobody knows exactly why this occurs. Some possible reasons why are as new teeth erupt, the alignment and bite change slightly. As a result children grind their teeth to reestablish a stable bite. Other theories involve minor changes in inner ear pressure. In rare instances bruxism can be a result of sleep apnea or sleep disorder breathing. This is one of the few instances where treatment may be needed.

So when should you be concerned? If your child is having trouble sleeping then, as mentioned above, they may have a sleep disorder. When this happens, a sleep study is often ordered and the child is evaluated through a sleep study. If tooth sensitivity occurs, dental treatment may be needed. Persistent headaches as a result of grinding may also require some form of intervention. Finally if the grinding persists beyond 9-10 years of age, there may be an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.

For the most part, while the clenching and grinding sound may be annoying, loud and disruptive, it usually resolves without treatment. If you are concerned, don't hesitate to reach out and bring your child in to our office, First Smile Pediatric Dentistry, so we can take a look. 


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Irvine, CA 92604
PH: 949.299.1111