Teeth grinding in children – How can you help?

Nov 19, 2021

As an adult you will probably be aware of having experienced this at some point in your life – or been kept awake at night by a partner who is grinding their teeth.
But did you know children can grind their teeth too? In fact it can happen in babies, toddlers and older children.
Teeth grinding in children is often a temporary thing  and resolves when all milk teeth have come through.   Sometimes it can be persistent and more regular and should always be checked out if you notice it at age 5 or older.
Bruxism is the name given to clenching and or grinding (rubbing together) for the teeth.  It makes an awful noise – like finger nails down and blackboard.
It most commonly occurs when we are  asleep, so if you don’t share a room with your child you may have missed it.  Here’s what to look out for.

Signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • the noise of the teeth grinding together, especially when they are asleep although you may notice it in the daytime too
  • difficulty sleeping and frequent night waking
  • complaining of headaches (especially first thing in the morning)
  • ear pain where there is no infection or obvious cause
  • sore / sensitive teeth
  • pain with chewing
  • sore face ( especially when waking in the morning)
  • the dentist may comment on damage done to the teeth, wearing of the enamel or even cracks in teeth.
Many of these symptoms will be the same for children and adults.
If you suspect your child is grinding their teeth what can you do to help?

What should you do about it? 

The first thing you should do is visit the dentist or specialist children’s dentist.  They can assess to see if there is any damage done to the teeth.  You should also see  and or see your GP to  rule out an infection (such as an ear infection)  as a cause of their pain.

How do you treat teeth grinding in children?

It is thought that tooth grinding is the problem then getting to the root cause is the best way to treat it.

Causes include:

  • Misaligned teeth or bite
  • pain from ear aches or teething pain
  • stress – anxiety, change in home / school life etc
  • Medical cause: hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, some medication side effects or behavioral issues.
  • Be aware of more extreme depression, anxiety and eating disorders
If you are reassured that there is no serious underlying medical cause, it might be worth seeing your osteopath.
teeth grinding in childrenFor some children, just as adults, physical tension in their body can be a factor too.   They often have tension that triggers the teeth grinding and that in itself leads to more tension and you can find yourself in a  vicious cycle.
Times of rapid physical growth, stress / worry,  accidents/ bumps/falls/ recent illness can all leave physical tension in the body.
Speak to your child to see if they are concerned about anything.  Can you establish a new bedtime routine that allows them more time to relax and unwind? Our mindfulness tips for kids blog may be useful
Seeing your osteopath will help to identify where there’s tension may be and help to break the cycle of tension – grind – tension. Helping your child to feel more relaxed and comfortable.
You can also check out our You tube video on helpful jaw exercises to ease the tension at home too.
If you have any further questions or are concerned about your child’s or your own bruxism, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  We are happy to chat through your concerns and see if we can help or direct you to other services if needed.

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