Why Kids Grind Their Teeth

teeth-grindingDuring childhood is the time to correct dental habits that can have long-term negative effects. Although it may seem as though these bad habits are only affecting baby teeth, and can be dealt with once adult teeth begin to form, these problems need to be addressed sooner rather than later to prevent the essential baby teeth from being damaged as well as the adult teeth that will begin to make their way up.

The Cause

Teeth grinding is extremely common in young children, especially when they have just come off of a binky. They usually begin grinding during the night while sleeping. Although there isnt a definite cause linked to the problem, some experts speculate some of the causes could include:

  • The pain of an erupted tooth or an earache

  • A problem with the upper teeth not being aligned with the lower teeth

  • Stress

Most children will outgrow the habit once they lose their baby teeth, but it can sometimes continue, indicating that a deeper problem is brewing. Make sure to get it examined if it lasts an exceptionally long time, and be prepared to make changes.

Stop The Grinding

If there isnt a medical problem that is causing the issues, the teeth grinding may be directly related to stress, and an automatic reaction to the stress the child is feeling. If the grinding happens more often than just while they are sleeping, watch for the obvious things that set it off. If there are changes in behavior, you can search for these causes and eliminate both problems in one.

If your child hasnt already been in for a checkup, now is the best time to take them in. Make sure that their teeth are growing properly, and that there isnt a larger problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Even if you dont notice your child grinding their teeth, it would be beneficial to get them in for a checkup to ensure everything is growing and lining up as it should.

If nothing else, the grinding of teeth can be an annoyance to the parents who have to hear it every time their child is asleep near them. The sound is particularly bothersome to some people, like nails on a chalkboard. If this is the case for your situation, get the problem examined as soon as possible. There are a few different types of mouth guards that are available for those in need, varying in price. These can be used to stop the grinding, and with it the sound. Look into this option for your child after consulting with their dentist.

When your child grinds their teeth, dont hesitate to call your pediatric dentist. They can determine if this is just a brief phase they are going through, that will pass before they get their adult teeth, or if this is something more serious. After your child has their first tooth, you should be bringing them in semiannually. Use this visit to ask questions about your child grinding their teeth.


Cassie Costner writes on different issues relating to childrens teeth and the steps parents should take to correct them for Burg Pediatric Dentistry, a pediatric dentist in Utah. In addition to grinding of the teeth, she has written on when to start flossing, what to do with lost baby teeth, and dealing with a cavity in a baby tooth.

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