What Should I Do If My Child Grinds His/Her Teeth At Night?

 Parents are often concerned about children grinding their teeth (called bruxism) when they sleep. Often, the first indication is the noise created by grinding. Or, the parent may notice wear which makes teeth look shorter than usual. One theory may have a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school, etc., can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing) children may grind by moving their jaw to relieve pressure.

The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be indicated. The negatives to a mouth guard are the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep and it may interfere with growth of the jaws. The positive is obvious by preventing wear to the primary dentition. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism.