Bruxism – When Children Grind their Teeth

Bruxism is the formal name for teeth-grinding, which occurs when a person moves the jaw while holding his or her teeth together. It often occurs during sleep, and younger people are more susceptible to it than older ones. Up to 30% of children grind their teeth; most outgrow it. (Some professionals also include jaw-clenching in the definition of bruxism.) If you’ve never heard a child grind his or her teeth before, you may be surprised how much harsh noise can come out of that little mouth.

If your child grinds his or her teeth while awake, behavior modification often works to break the habit. We can work with you to support behavior modification techniques or suggest other professionals who can help.

A child who grinds his or her teeth while asleep requires different treatment altogether. Behavior modification won’t work because the child is fully unconscious while grinding. In this case, a specially fitted mouthguard or splint is most often the treatment of choice. While it can require a short period of adjustment, the child certainly benefits in the long run.

If your child is probably going to outgrow bruxism, why treat it at all? In the short term, it can cause headaches, fatigue, overdeveloped jaw muscles, even jaw dysfunction. In the long term—especially because even if bruxism stops on its own, it can go on for years—your child’s teeth may be permanently worn down and hypersensitive from the act of grinding. That’s an outcome you certainly want to avoid.

Even if you are not aware of your child’s bruxism, most dentists will be able to tell if your child suffers from it by the symptoms, such as morning jaw pain combined with a flattening of the teeth. If there is any doubt, a sleep study can be performed to check, but this isn’t usually necessary.

On the other hand, sometimes problems other than bruxism occur during your child’s sleep—interrupted breathing (apnea), for instance, that could cause excessive daytime sleepiness. In such a case, you and your child’s physician should discuss consulting a sleep specialist.



We care about your child’s dental health 12 months of the year. To maintain proper oral hygiene, we want to keep you informed and provide useful information. We hope you find these articles informative and helpful, and we look forward to seeing you at your child’s next appointment.

For More Information Contact our Winnipeg Childrens Dental Office. Its just for Kids! -(204)201-0588


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