What to do if your child is grinding his teeth

Around a quarter of children will grind or clench their teeth at some point during their childhood. Although most children grow out of it, it can become a serious issue. This is because grinding wears away the enamel on the teeth, and once enamel is gone, it’s gone for good.

In this post, we’ll address your concerns about bruxism (which is another word for teeth grinding and clenching). Specifically, this post will discuss the causes of bruxism in children as well as what you can do if you suspect your child is grinding her teeth.

Causes of bruxism in children

Several things can cause bruxism in children:

  • Teething. When a child’s teeth are coming through, they can cause discomfort and pain. Some children grind their teeth as a way to relieve the pain. In fact, teething is a very common cause of bruxism in children.
  • Earaches. The same goes for earaches – some children grind their teeth to ease the pain of an earache.
  • Misaligned teeth. Sometimes, children grind their teeth because their top and bottom teeth don’t align properly.
  • Stress. Even though we like to think that children lead stress-free lives, children can and do suffer from stress. A child might worry about starting a new school, getting a new sibling, or making friends, for example. Arguments between parents can also cause stress and anxiety. All and any of these negative feelings can manifest as bruxism.
  • Hyperactivity. Many children with hyperactivity tend to grind their teeth or clench their jaw.
  • Medical conditions. Some medical contains, such as cerebral palsy, can cause bruxism.
  • Medications. There are also certain medications that cause bruxism, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants.

What to do if your child grinds his teeth

If you suspect your child has bruxism, then it’s best to see a dentist. This is because your dentist will be able to determine the extent of the bruxism and will also decide whether your child will need a night guard. This is a mouthpiece that prevents your child from damaging his teeth during the night.

It’s also important to find out the cause of the grinding, which is something else a dentist can help you with. The dentist will ask your child a few questions, such as:

  • Do you have any problems at school?
  • Do you have any problems at home?
  • Is someone making you angry?
  • How do you feel when you go to bed?

If the bruxism is stress-related, then there are several things you can do. First, you can reassure your child about the situation that is worrying him. For example, if your child is worried about starting school, then you can reassure him by finding books about school such as Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s Starting School. Secondly, you can try to reduce the source of the stress. If your child is stressed because you and your partner argue a lot, you could agree with your partner to only argue when your child is not around.

If the bruxism has a physical cause, then the dentist will be able to advise your further. The good news is that most children outgrow bruxism on their own. If teething is the cause of the bruxism for example, then your child will stop grinding when he has lost all his baby teeth.

If in doubt, contact us

If you think your child is grinding her teeth, make an appointment with us by calling 020 8882 3180. We’ll help find the cause.