Tell-Tale Signs of Nighttime Teeth Grinding

If you discover your child has developed bruxism, also known as nighttime teeth grinding, don’t lose sleep over it. It is more common than you may think. According to KidsHealth, approximately 3 out of 10 children will grind or clench their teeth. And the good news? Most children will outgrow it on their own. However, if it does go unnoticed or untreated for too long, it can lead to serious effects on your child’s oral and overall health. Continue reading to learn more about identifying teeth grinding, the causes of teeth grinding, and how to prevent it.


Identifying Teeth Grinding

Bruxism and teeth grinding is most identifiable by the chattering or grinding noise you will hear while your child sleeps. Since this often occurs while they sleep, your child will probably not even notice they do it. If they often complain of a sore jaw or face, or experience pain while chewing though – these are also symptoms of bruxism. 

An exam by your pediatric dentist may also reveal signs of nighttime teeth grinding. Chipped enamel, unusual wear and tear, and unusual sensitivity are common signs of bruxism. If you have a reason to believe your child is grinding or clenching their teeth, reach out. Schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric dentists at Snodgrass-King.


Why Is My Child Grinding Their Teeth At Night?

Before you can reverse or prevent teeth grinding habits, you have to understand the cause of it. Getting to the bottom of why it is happening will determine treatment options and plans provided by your pediatric dentist.

There are several reasons why your child may develop bruxism. Some medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, can cause your child to develop this habit. Also, some medications can cause grinding of the teeth. However, if not from a pre-existing condition or medication, the most common reasons are anatomical and psychological. 

Anatomical Causes of Bruxism

Anatomically, if your child’s top and bottom teeth are not aligned properly, it can lead to bruxism and an unhealthy amount of wear and tear. This can be identified during an evaluation by your pediatric dentist and may also require x-rays. If your child’s teeth seem to be aligned, they do not have any pre-existing conditions and are not on any medications that may cause bruxism, there is yet another potential cause.

Psychological Causes of Bruxism

Psychologically, teeth grinding and clenching can be caused by stress, nervousness, anger, or anxiety. As a parent, this is the last thing you want to hear and for your child to be going through. If you suspect bruxism though, ask your child how their day was. Check in to see if something is bothering or upsetting them. School, friendships, and unfortunately, family-related struggles can often be the source of these emotions.


Preventing & Reversing Teeth Grinding Habits

If your child is approaching the age of 6 and still grinding their teeth at night, it is probably time to start thinking about treatment options. If you have not done so already, notify your pediatric dentist and they will most likely suggest one of the following:

  • Night Guards: A custom night guard, molded to your child’s teeth, will both prevent teeth grinding and protect your child’s teeth in the process of breaking the habit.
  • Dental Correction: If your child’s teeth grinding is the result of teeth misalignment, your pediatric dentist may recommend dental correction.
  • Stress & Anxiety Management: Teeth grinding can be caused from stress, nervousness, or other anxiety-related emotions. In this case, management of these emotions and conditions could be a sufficient treatment option.
  • Other: Only in severe cases will the above not be effective. However, for your knowledge, additional treatment options may include muscle relaxants, botox, or medication for stress or anxiety. These additional treatment options are not recommended for young children – only if they have reached teenage or young adult years and still struggle with teeth grinding. 

As mentioned before, most children will outgrow bruxism, but in the event your child seems to have prolonged teeth grinding, it is important to start treatment. The key to treating bruxism is first figuring out the cause, and from there working with your pediatric dentist to fix the problem. If left untreated, your child could suffer from headaches, earaches, or severe jaw pain. In addition, teeth grinding can wear down tooth enamel, chip teeth, and increase temperature sensitivity,


Visit Us Today

If you are concerned about your child’s teeth grinding or clenching habits, please reach out to us today. One of our pediatric dentists will evaluate your child, and we will work together with you to ensure the best overall and dental health for your little one.

We are open and excited to be seeing patients! Our facilities have been sanitized from floor to ceiling, and we will continue to follow all ADA, CDC, and local health department guidelines. We understand the concern you may have regarding COVID-19 and want you to know that we share those concerns and are ensuring your safety in our offices. For more information on what to expect at your next appointment, visit our website at

Snodgrass-King Dental Associates has 5 locations across Middle Tennessee (Mt. Juliet, Spring Hill, Franklin and Cool Springs). Contact us today to see if we can help jump-start and be a resource in you or your child’s healthy, dental lifestyle. We offer a variety of services for both children and adults. We can also address any orthodontic needs for children, teens, and adults. If you have any questions, call us today at (615) 771-1111.