Teeth Grinding and Clenching in Children: Is it a problem?

14 March 2024

Teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism, is a common dental concern that affects both adults and children. While it may be a natural part of growth and development in some cases, persistent or severe bruxism in children can lead to dental issues and other health concerns.

In this blog, we will explore the causes, signs, and potential problems associated with teeth grinding in children, as well as ways to manage and address this behaviour.

The importance of children’s teeth

Our teeth help us eat, talk, and smile. To keep your child’s teeth healthy, start good dental habits early. Keeping their teeth clean (through brushing and flossing), regular trips to the dentist, and making sure kids get enough fluoride are the best way to keep teeth healthy.

Why do children grind and clench their teeth?

Understanding the potential causes of teeth grinding in children is crucial for addressing the issue effectively. Several factors may contribute to bruxism, including:

1. Stress and Anxiety: Children, like adults, can experience stress and anxiety. School pressure, social challenges, or changes in the family dynamic can trigger bruxism in some cases.
2. Malocclusion (Misalignment of Teeth): If a child’s teeth don’t align properly, it can lead to grinding as the child attempts to find a comfortable bite.
3. Hyperactivity or ADHD: Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be more prone to bruxism.
4. Sleep Disorders: Conditions like sleep apnoea or snoring can contribute to teeth grinding.
5. Medical Reasons: Disorders such as cerebral palsy or some type of medicines can cause bruxism.

It’s important to identify the signs of teeth grinding early on, so you can help address the issue before it leads to more significant problems. Look out for the following signs in your child:

Audible Grinding Noises: If you hear grinding sounds coming from your child’s room during the night, it could be a sign of bruxism.
Complaints of Jaw Pain or Headaches: Children may not always express discomfort, but complaints of jaw pain or headaches, especially in the morning, could be indicative of teeth grinding.
Worn Tooth Enamel: Regular dental check-ups may reveal signs of worn enamel on your child’s teeth.
Increased Tooth Sensitivity: Bruxism can cause increased tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.

What effects does bruxism have?

While occasional teeth grinding in children may not necessarily be a cause for concern, persistent and severe bruxism can lead to various issues including:

Tooth Damage: Grinding can wear down the enamel on teeth, leading to increased sensitivity and a higher risk of cavities.
Jaw Disorders: Constant clenching and grinding can contribute to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, resulting in jaw pain and difficulty opening or closing the mouth.
Sleep Disruptions: Bruxism can disrupt a child’s sleep, leading to fatigue and irritability during the day which can have an impact on performance at school or college.

How to help them overcome this issue

If you identify any of the signs of bruxism or suspect that your child is grinding their teeth, consider the following strategies:

1. Stress Management: Help your child manage stress through open communication, relaxation techniques, and activities that promote a sense of calm.
2. Dental Check-ups: Regular dental check-ups can help identify signs of bruxism early on. Your dentist may recommend a nightguard to protect the teeth from grinding.
3. Establish a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Creating a calming bedtime routine can help reduce stress and promote better sleep.
4. Address Underlying Issues: If bruxism is linked to other health issues, such as sleep apnoea or misaligned teeth, consult with healthcare professionals to address these underlying problems.


Teeth grinding in children is a common behaviour that may or not be a cause for concern. Vigilance, regular dental check-ups, and taking care of any underlying issues can help manage and prevent potential problems associated with bruxism. If you have concerns about your child’s teeth grinding, consult with your dentist and healthcare provider for personalised advice and guidance.

If you’d like to discuss your child’s oral health or get them booked in for a check-up – get in touch with Pateley Bridge Dental today – click here.