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Teeth grinding in children: Why does it happen?

Posted by DR. CHRISTOPHER WONG on Feb 13 2020, 02:39 AM

Children are often seen clenching their jaws or grinding their teeth, especially when they're teething. Though it provides a relief to them, excessive grinding of teeth could lead to certain oral issues. Over time, the severity of the condition could intensify and affect the child's adult life as well, which is why it is essential to treat it in the early stages.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for night-time teeth grinding and jaw clenching. It is a condition that is mostly seen in adults, which is known to be one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. However, children do sometimes experience teeth grinding due to various causes. Approximately 15% to 35% of children are known to grind their teeth, either consciously or subconsciously.

What are the causes?

In toddlers, the teething phase could cause a lot of irritation in the gums. Due to this, the tendency to grind the teeth and clench one's jaws are higher as it provides a relief to them. They grind their teeth both during sleep as well as waking hours. The other cause of teeth grinding could be when children lose their milk teeth, and the permanent teeth start to erupt. The tendency to clench the jaws would be high during this stage, which could lead to misalignment of teeth.

What are the symptoms?

  • Due to excessive clenching of the jaws, your child could experience persistent pain while biting, chewing, or even talking.
  • The child could experience early morning headaches quite frequently. Also, due to night-time jaw clenching, the tissues of the face and oral cavity may become sore.
  • The growth of the teeth could be impacted due to grinding. Over time, the alignment of the teeth could change and give rise to a malocclusion. A common type of malocclusion in such cases is where the teeth from the upper and lower jaw do not meet in proper alignment.
  • Grinding of the permanent teeth results in excessive wear, which makes the teeth look shorter in length. As the outer layer of the enamel gets eroded, it may induce supersensitivity.
  • The overall quality of sleep diminishes due to bruxism. Your child would barely be able to explore the deeper stages of sleep, which affects their day-time routine.


It is best to get your child diagnosed by a qualified dentist at the earliest to prevent the condition from worsening. Call us or schedule an online appointment, and we'll be happy to help.


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