Why Do Kids Grind Their Teeth?

Why Do Kids Grind Their Teeth?

Team Pediatric

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common habit among many young children. An estimated 30 percent of kids grind their teeth before reaching age five. It's usually not a cause for alarm, and most kids outgrow it by the time they reach age six.

However, sometimes the teeth grinding can continue. If your child is over the age of six and often wakes up regularly with a sore jaw or gets teased by sleepover friends or siblings who hear gnashing sounds at night, your child may have bruxism.

If your child seems to grind their teeth frequently, you may wonder about the reasons behind this behavior and what factors might contribute to it. It's in their best interest to take them to a dentist to find out why.

Developmental Factors

Teeth grinding in children may happen due to various developmental factors. For younger children, it may be related to the teething process. Emerging teeth can cause discomfort, which can lead to grinding as a means to alleviate the pressure.

Additionally, as children's jaws and teeth develop and grow, jaw misalignment or orthodontic issues may arise, contributing to teeth grinding.

Stress and Anxiety

Much like adults who deal with bruxism, children may grind their teeth in response to stress or anxiety. Various situations, such as starting a new school, family changes, academic pressure, or conflicts with peers, can trigger stress in children causing them to grind their teeth. 

Unfortunately, it's an unconscious mechanism for releasing tension and coping with emotional stressors.

Sleep-Related Factors

Teeth grinding often occurs during sleep in people of all ages. Sleep-related factors such as sleep apnea, snoring, or breathing difficulties can contribute to bruxism in children. Obstructed airways or sleep-disordered breathing can result in jaw movements and grinding as the body naturally tries to open the air passages.

Dental and Bite Issues

Children with dental problems such as malocclusion (misaligned bite), crowded or missing teeth, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues may be prone to grinding their teeth. These conditions can cause discomfort or instability in the jaw. The body may seek a more comfortable position for the teeth and jaw, which leads to teeth grinding.

Problematic Dental Habits and Behaviors

Some children develop poor oral habits like teeth clenching or grinding due to thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, or nail-biting. These repetitive behaviors can affect the positioning of the teeth and contribute to bruxism. Additionally, parents should be aware that habits like chewing on objects or excessive use of pacifiers can also influence teeth-grinding tendencies.

Contact the Smile Architects for Teeth Grinding Solutions

Teeth grinding is a common occurrence among children and can be attributed to various factors. Developmental changes, stress and anxiety, sleep-related issues, dental and bite problems, as well as habits and behaviors, can all contribute to this condition. 

Identifying the underlying causes and seeking appropriate interventions with an experienced dentist can help reduce teeth grinding and promote oral health in children.

At Smile Architects, our dental professionals can help you address teeth grinding in your child and explore viable solutions. Contact us online or call our office today at 704-875-1621 to schedule an appointment.