Teeth grinding (also called bruxism) happens when your child clenches her teeth and grinds them together.
Usually the grinding doesn’t hurt the teeth. However, if your child still has some baby teeth, the surface of the teeth can get worn down by the grinding. Teeth that are very worn down may cause problems, such as decay, infections, and cracks, or it may be difficult for your child to chew food properly.
A number of things may cause teeth grinding. For example:
Teeth grinding is most common in children around the ages of 5 and 6, but it can happen at any age.
The symptoms may include:
Most children grind their teeth only at night. If your child is feeling very stressed, she may also grind her teeth during the day.
Most children will stop teeth grinding on their own without special treatment. Keep appointments for routine dental checkups. If your child has pain or you see wear on the teeth, get your child checked by a dentist who specializes in children. Dentists can polish your child’s teeth to make them fit together more comfortably. Your dentist may recommend a bite block (also called a night guard). A bite block is a plastic mouthpiece that stops your child's teeth from grinding together. It’s usually worn only at night.
Help your child talk about things that may be causing tension, fear, or anger. You can do this as part of the bedtime routine. For example, when your child is telling you about her day, ask about how things that happened that day made her feel. It’s probably best not to draw attention to the grinding itself.
Contact your child’s healthcare provider or dentist if you have any questions or your child’s symptoms seem to be getting worse.