Working in pediatric dentistry, we often hear parents are concerned that their child is grinding their teeth at night – this is also known as bruxism. While it may be difficult to listen to, the good news is most kids grow out of grinding their teeth when the permanent teeth erupt!
So you might be wondering, why does this happen?
Grinding is often a response to stress (such as a school test or a change in routine), the misalignment of the teeth, or more commonly, teething.
During times of teething, clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth is a way that children alleviate some of the discomfort, similar to rubbing a sore muscle. When teeth are out of alignment, children will grind their teeth until the jaw feels the teeth are “in place” or where the teeth fit best together. Evidence of grinding is visible in some kids – this will appear as flattened edges of the front teeth or flattened biting surfaces of the molars.
In more severe cases of bruxism or if grinding continues once all permanent teeth have erupted, a custom night guard can be made to protect the permanent teeth from damage.
While there is no specific reason behind why children grind their teeth or a set way to treat bruxism at a young age, we can be happy knowing it usually ends around age 6.
In most cases, children typically grow out of grinding their teeth around age 6 or 7, when the permanent molars erupt and parents can finally get a good nights sleep!