Is your child's teeth grinding normal?

Teeth grinding – which is also known as bruxism – is very common in children, especially among toddlers and preschoolers.

»RELATED: Does my child have ADHD? Things to know about the condition

If you hear your child doing this at night, or if they have symptoms of teeth grinding, here's what you need to know about whether this habit is anything to be concerned about:

How many kids grind their teeth?

About 20-30 percent of kids grind their teeth or clench their jaws. They usually outgrow it, often by age 6, but some will continue to grind their teeth beyond this age.

If you have any concerns or if your child is experiencing discomfort, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends talking to your child's dentist about the possible causes and solutions. Regular dental visits can also help detect signs of bruxism before you may even become aware of it.

What makes kids grind their teeth?

Children can grind their teeth for a variety of reasons. In adults, it's usually caused by stress, and although that can also be true of children, it can also be caused by any of the following, according to Healthline and the ADA:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • An attempt to relieve pain, possibly from an earache or teething. Bruxism can be more common when primary or adult teeth are emerging since this can cause pain.
  • A result of certain medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy
  • An effect of taking certain medications
  • Allergies

In some cases, the exact cause can't be identified.

What are some signs that your child is grinding his or her teeth?

The most obvious way to tell if your child has bruxism is by listening to them when they sleep or asking a sibling who shares the same room to listen for grinding noises.

Other signs can be more subtle, and they can include the following:

  • Jaw pain
  • Frequently rubbing the jaw
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Facial pain
  • Pain when chewing
  • Chipped, broken or cracked teeth
  • Worn down tooth enamel
  • Disrupted sleep

Can teeth grinding be treated?

Kids will outgrow teeth grinding in many cases, and often no treatment is needed. It's not recommended that you wake your child up when you hear him grinding his teeth, since this won't solve the problem and will disrupt his ability to get a good night's sleep.

If your child's teeth grinding is caused by a problem such as an earache or stress, this underlying problem can be addressed. Ask your child specific questions to see if stress can be an issue, such as asking how they feel before bed and if they're worried about anything at home or school. Ask if they're angry at anyone or about something.

Going to bed may be stressful for your child, so you may find that establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can help set the tone for a more peaceful night.

If your child is somewhat older and teeth grinding is causing a significant amount of pain or problems such as misalignment or worn-down tooth enamel, her dentist may recommend a night guard. This retainer-like flexible piece of plastic is worn over the upper gums only at night. This type of guard can be very effective in treating teeth grinding. It's generally not used on younger kids, however, since their teeth are constantly changing, and they may not be able to wear it consistently.

In most cases, teeth grinding is something that your child will outgrow, probably without the need for treatment.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Health

How you can help Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill earn national bragging rights
How you can help Legendary Lights of Clifton Mill earn national bragging rights

For more than 30 years, Clifton Mill has been a glowing example of what the holiday season is about in Southwest Ohio.  The official website published its Ohio Holiday Lights Trail list, and Clifton Mill was near the top of most spectacular light shows in the state. The recognition comes just in time, as Clifton Mill is in the running...
The best Amazon Black Friday deals of 2018
The best Amazon Black Friday deals of 2018

Not a fan of the chaos that inevitably comes with in-person Black Friday shopping? » RELATED: Amazon offers free shipping for all during 2018 holiday season If you’d rather get in on the fun from the comfort of your couch or bed, e-commerce giant Amazon has plenty of deals for its customers just in time for the holidays....
Debate settled: This is the right time to put up your Christmas tree
Debate settled: This is the right time to put up your Christmas tree

While it may never reach the level of controversy of how to hang the toilet paper roll or which way to load the dishwasher, the right time to put up the Christmas tree is a heavily-debated household topic. There are answers to this question that depend on everything from Prince Albert to the opinion of tree growers to something called Adelaide...
Teddy enters the football prediction game
Teddy enters the football prediction game

Saturday, Nov. 24, is an important day for Ohio State students, alumni and fans. It’s the OSU-Michigan game, the latest installment in a football rivalry that started in 1897 with Michigan winning 34-0. “The Game,” as it is known, this year will be played at the Horseshoe in Columbus. My family will probably watch, but as Ohio University...
The best stores for discounted Black Friday shopping 
The best stores for discounted Black Friday shopping 

When it comes to major discounts and killer deals, some retailers fare better than others. » RELATED: All the Black Friday deals to catch in 2018 Luckily, analysts over at personal finance website WalletHub did some of the work for shoppers as they prepare for the hectic post-Thanksgiving holiday. After surveying nearly 7,000 deals...
More Stories