Why Do Kids Grind Their Teeth?

Teeth grinding is a common problem for both adults and children. 15-33% of kids grind their teeth at some point. Most of them do it when their milk teeth start to appear and when their permanent teeth come out. They generally tend to stop grinding when teeth are fully developed.

Why Do Kids Grind Their Teeth?

There is no established explanation of teeth grinding. According to researches, there can be a lot of reasons, some of which are:

1. Misaligned Teeth or Pain

When the upper and lower teeth are not aligned properly, kids are more likely to grind them. They also tend to grind their teeth if there is any pain in the teeth, ear or throat. This grinding provides some soothing effect, especially when they are teething.

2. Stress Such as Tension or Anger

It is a commonly observed phenomenon that kids are very likely to grind their teeth if they are under stress. The stress can be due to change of environment, start of schooling, arrival of a brother or sister, or weaning from breast feeding.

Note: Kids having ADHD are more likely to experience lots of anxiety and stress, so they tend to grind their teeth as well.

3. Upper Airway Obstruction

Why do kids grind their teeth? Upper airway obstruction is one of the possible reasons. Children having airway obstruction tend to move their jaw forward to keep the airway open. This can lead to stimulation of upper air way receptors, resulting in teeth grinding.

4. Pinworms

Children having pinworm infestation grind their teeth a lot. The main reason is that these parasites secrete lots of toxins and these toxins can stimulate the nerves, which leads to teeth grinding.

5. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

In sleep apnoea, the breathing is interrupted while a person is asleep. The interrupted breathing leads to sleep disturbance, which results in an increased muscle activity in jaw and mastication muscles, leading to teeth grinding.

6. Oral Hyposensitivity

Kids with oral hyposensitivity have very little sensitivity in the oral cavity and they have a higher threshold for sensory input. Therefore, they need more oral input such as excessive chewing, filling the mouth with food and teeth grinding.

7. Other Causes

Why do kids grind their teeth? While sometimes the cause is obvious, most of the time the exact reason remains a mystery. Kids suffering from hyperactivity or cerebral palsy are more likely to grind their teeth. Other causes include:

  • Side effect of some psychiatric medications
  • Acid reflux
  • Movement disorders like Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
  • Deficiency of certain minerals or nutrients

Problems Caused by Teeth Grinding

Why do kids grind their teeth

While teeth grinding is usually harmless, it can also lead to certain problems. Severe cases of teeth grinding may lead to the following complications:

  • Damage to the teeth, jaw and crowns
  • Disorders or dislocation of the temporomandibular joints (TMJs)
  • Headaches, most commonly tension headaches
  • Severe facial pain

What to Do If You Find Your Kids Grinding Teeth

Why do kids grind their teeth? Now you know the answer, and it is also important to know how to deal with it. Generally speaking, kids will grow out of this condition naturally. No treatment is required unless the symptoms are extremely severe or there is obvious damage to the teeth. If the grinding is due to misalignment of the teeth, they may need evaluation by dentists for further management. Here are a few tips on how you can help kids to stop grinding teeth.

1. A Relaxing Bedtime Routine Is Necessary

bed time routine

Teeth grinding or bruxism can be a sign for help and can mean that your child is feeling anxious or stressed. Kids are very sensitive and they cannot describe their problems properly. Help them to relax and make bed time an opportunity to reduce stress.

You can help them to have a bath, read them a story book, talk to them, play some soothing music if they want, so they can have a peaceful night’s sleep. This will make kids grind their teeth less.

2. Keep the Kid’s Bedroom Calm, Comfortable and Peaceful


The kid’s bedroom should be calm and comfortable. Try to keep the lights dim and do not turn them off completely. Keep the room temperature moderate, and it should not be too cold or too hot. Make sure that the bed is big enough for the child. If the kid is out growing it, it is better to change it. In this way, the kid will feel relaxed during sleep and grind less.

3. Try to Put a Warm Washcloth on the Child’s Jaw Before Bed Time

warm towel

To keep the jaw muscles relaxed during the night and to reduce the chances of teeth grinding, you can put a warm cloth on the child’s jaw for a few minutes before bedtime. Make the cloth wet with some warm water and check the temperature before placing it on the child’s jaw. When it gets cooler, run it under hot water again and put it on the other side of the jaw. Doing this will increase blood flow of this area, which will help keep the muscles relaxed.

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