What Parents Need to Know About Teeth Grinding or Clenching in Kids

Teeth grinding or clenching is known as bruxism. If your child wakes up with symptoms such as sore jaws, pain, or difficulty chewing, that may be a sign that they grind their teeth at night, and you should consider taking them to a pediatric dentist.

Bruxism in Children

In some cases, bruxism in children can go unnoticed with zero undesirable results, while in others, it can cause damage to teeth and painful and persistent earaches or headaches. Grinding can wear down the tooth enamel resulting in chip teeth, increased sensitivity to hot and cold, and face and jaw issues such as TMJ.As a parent, watch out for the following signs:

  • Grinding noise when asleep
  • Frequent earaches and headaches
  • Subtle mouth movements while the child is reading, watching TV, or focusing on a task
  • When your child complains of a stiff or sore jaw in the morning
  • Mouth movements (from clenching) when your child is in a tense situation
  • Fear of going to bed or trouble sleeping (associating sleep with pain)
  • Wear and tear on the teeth

If your child is experiencing such symptoms, visit Watt Antelope Family Dentist.Bruxism can occur when your child is asleep or awake. Two types of bruxism are awake bruxism and sleep bruxism.

Awake bruxism

Children with this condition grind their teeth and clench their jaw during the day. Emotional issues, stress, anxiety, concentrating on something, or anger can make your child grind their teeth.

Sleep bruxism

Sleep bruxism occurs when your child is asleep and they are unaware they are doing it. The symptoms worsen in the morning when your child wakes up but improve during the day.

Why do Children Grind or Clench their teeth?

Your child can grind or clench their teeth due to environmental triggers, psychological factors, and family history. The following can result in clenching and grinding of teeth:

1. Stress

For children who go to school, bruxism can result from the stress of getting good grades, chores, and homework.

2. Age

Bruxism can affect children of all age groups, but it’s more likely to be seen in kids aged 7 to 10. When a baby’s teeth come in, they may engage in bruxism to help soothe the discomfort associated with teething. Teeth grinding during infancy doesn’t cause long-term health complications but can make infants stop breastfeeding prematurely.Separation anxiety and stress can trigger teeth grinding and clenching in toddlers and children.

3. Anxiety

Naturally, restless kids and kids who are more worried about doing well in school are more likely to grind and clench their teeth.

4. Dental issues

Teeth clenching or grinding is more common with kids with misaligned teeth and those with fixed orthodontic appliances such as braces. Kids that use their mouths to breathe are more likely to be affected by bruxism.

5. Other mental health and sleep disorders

Bruxism occurs more in kids with other conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or migraines.

What are The Treatments for Teeth Grinding or Clenching?

Treating teeth grinding or clenching helps prevent tooth damage and reduces side effects such as headaches and pain. Addressing sources of stress and improving sleep quality can help manage teeth clenching or grinding.Teeth-grinding treatment for kids depends on various factors such as age, overall health, medical history, and the kid’s personal preferences depending on their age. Below are treatments that can help your child stop grinding or clenching their teeth:


A mouthguard helps protect the child’s teeth from damage from teeth grinding and clenching. When worn, it absorbs the force of the bite, preventing any damage to the teeth.

Stress relief

Talking to your kid about what may be causing distress in their lives, like academic obligations or a recent move, can help reduce bruxism. Take your child to a school counselor or mental health professional for extra support.Some activities can help relieve stress, such as listening to soothing music, giving them a warm bath, or reading a book before bedtime.


In certain situations, your child may have to take medicine to halt the cycle of teeth grinding, which helps relax the muscles. This option allows the jaw muscles to relax, which may alleviate the symptoms.Our dentist in North Highlands, CA, will help you choose the proper treatment for your child.