When kids grind their teeth or clench their jaw, it is called bruxism. Mild bruxism usually doesn’t need treatment and most children will outgrow it.

However, in some cases it can lead to damaged or chipped teeth and headaches. It’s important to find the source of the problem – it could be anxiety about a test, stress from bullying or an argument with a sibling.


Stress isn’t just a problem for adults – children experience it too, often in the form of teeth grinding. This habit, also known as bruxism, causes kids to clench and grind their jaws while they sleep, most often during the light stages of non-REM sleep. This can lead to a host of problems, including poor-quality sleep, mood fluctuations, anxiety, and more. The directory of dentists in Indianapolis is ready to help you understand how teeth grinding is related to stress and anxiety and how it impacts oral health.

Stressors that can cause teeth grinding in children include a number of things, such as fighting with a sibling or significant life changes like moving to a new home. Stressors can also be as simple as a hectic schedule or dealing with a particular subject in school. In some cases, teeth grinding is a sign that a child is experiencing pain due to teething or an earache. If a child is experiencing teething-related pain, you can try offering them a teething toy or even a moistened wash cloth to chew on in order to relieve this pain. In older children, a dentist can examine the mouth and advise other ways to ease this discomfort, such as anti-anxiety medication or a dietary adjustment.

Teeth grinding can also lead to a number of oral health concerns, such as worn down or chipped teeth. If this continues for a long time, it can cause the teeth to become misaligned, which may require orthodontic treatment. In addition, persistent clenching and grinding can cause a weakened enamel that is more susceptible to decay.

Another issue that can be caused by bruxism is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. TMJ is a condition that affects the muscles and joints that connect the skull to the lower jaw, and it can result in headaches, earaches, and pain when chewing or speaking. In many cases, a TMJ disorder is caused by teeth grinding or clenching that leads to pressure on the jaw and surrounding muscles, so it is important to address these issues with your child’s dentist as soon as you notice them.

Teeth Alignment

When kids grind their teeth or clench their jaws while sleeping, it’s called bruxism (BRUKS-iz-em). This habit is more common than you might think. In fact, 3 out of 10 kids will reportedly have it by age 5. Kids often don’t know they do it and other family members are the ones who notice this puzzling behavior, especially when it happens during sleep. It can also be a symptom of other medical problems, including hyperactivity, certain health conditions, and medication.

The most obvious symptom of this dental problem is the grating, squeaking noise it produces. This is often heard by other family members and can be very annoying. It can also cause earaches and facial pain and may result in the wearing down of tooth enamel. Excessive grinding can also lead to the misalignment of the jaw and teeth, a condition called malocclusions.

Fortunately, children usually outgrow this habit after their baby teeth fall out and their permanent teeth come in more fully. Until then, it’s important to keep an eye on the situation to make sure they don’t develop any lasting problems.

Your dentist will likely first try to discover what’s causing the problem. He or she may ask a few casual questions about your child’s pre-bedtime feelings, rituals, and routine as well as their stress levels and any recent conflicts. Kids with ADHD or other mental disorders are also more prone to grinding their teeth.

Once the cause is determined, your child’s dentist will recommend treatment options. This could involve orthodontic care for misaligned teeth and jaws, a mouth guard to help with sleep bruxism, or even therapy for anxiety-related stress. He or she may also advise a change in your child’s diet to cut down on caffeine and other stimulants that can contribute to the habit. Some kids will require additional dietary changes and medication to manage their anxiety levels and sleep apnea as well.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is more common than many people think. It is most commonly associated with anxiety, but it can be caused by physical issues as well. For example, if your child’s teeth are misaligned it can cause them to grind and clench their jaw in an attempt to correct the alignment. In addition, sleep disorders such as snoring or sleep apnea are linked to teeth grinding in both children and adults. Children with hyperactivity, especially those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, are more likely to grind their teeth as a way to manage their symptoms. Finally, certain medications can also lead to teeth grinding.

Symptoms of teeth grinding may include problems chewing, pain in the mouth or jaw, headaches and earaches. It can also lead to visible wear on the teeth and can make them more sensitive to hot or cold food. If your child complains of these symptoms it is important to make an appointment with their dentist so they can be evaluated and treated as soon as possible.

Mild bruxism in infants and toddlers isn’t usually something to worry about and they’ll probably outgrow it as their permanent teeth come in. However, more aggressive grinding can damage or wear out their baby teeth and can cause them pain in the jaw and head. It can also lead to an enlarged temporomandibular joint, which is the muscle that attaches the jaw to the skull.

A pediatric dentist can provide a variety of treatment options for teeth grinding. They will often recommend a mouthguard to help reduce pressure on the teeth and minimize any discomfort. In addition, they can recommend changes to your child’s diet and lifestyle that can help reduce their stress levels. This may include limiting sugary or acidic foods, avoiding caffeine, and getting more exercise. The goal is to find the root causes of the stress and anxiety in order to alleviate it. If the cause is found, it may be possible to eliminate teeth grinding completely or at least reduce the severity of the symptoms.


Teeth grinding and jaw clenching is not uncommon in toddlers who are teething or school-aged children whose permanent teeth are emerging. While this behavior is generally harmless, it can lead to problems if it becomes habitual and is not treated. Dental professionals refer to this as bruxism, and it can cause tooth pain, jaw fatigue and wear on the teeth. It can also be a sign of other health concerns, including sleep disorders and temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

TMD affects the joints of the jaw and can have a number of causes, including teeth misalignment, stress, and overuse of the jaw muscles. TMD can affect the quality of your child’s life and lead to headaches, facial pain, jaw discomfort, earaches, and even cracked or worn teeth. It’s important to treat the problem if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, and the good news is that it is easily treatable.

Some of the most common reasons kids grind their teeth include a desire to explore what their new teeth feel and taste like (this is seen in babies who are cutting their first tooth) and as a way to soothe pain from teething or an earache. Many children who grind their teeth also clench their jaws in response to stress or anxiety. They may be worried about an upcoming test or an argument with a sibling. Other children who grind their teeth clench their jaws as a symptom of hyperactivity or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

If you hear your child grinding and clenching their teeth at night, don’t panic! The good news is that most kids eventually grow out of the habit. However, it’s important to make a dentist appointment as soon as you notice any issues to ensure your child’s health is not at risk.