Many children grind their teeth in their sleep. Teeth-grinding doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your child and usually doesn’t damage your child’s teeth.

About teeth-grinding

Many children grind their teeth at some stage. Some children clench their jaws quite firmly. Others grind so hard that it makes a noise.

If your child grinds her teeth, she won’t usually wake up because of the noise she’s making – but other people in the room might!

In most cases, teeth-grinding doesn’t cause any damage to children’s teeth.

Teeth-grinding might damage teeth in only a few very extreme cases, where the grinding is very regular and very strong.

When to seek help for teeth-grinding

If you’re worried about your child’s teeth-grinding, talk to a health professional, like your GP or dentist. Devices to protect teeth or prevent grinding can help. You can talk to your dentist about these.

If your child grinds his teeth and also snores loudly, breathes with his mouth open, or chokes or gasps while he’s asleep, it’s a good idea to see your GP. This can help you rule out issues like sleep apnoea.

Why children grind their teeth

Nobody knows for sure why children grind their teeth.

They might do it because their top and bottom teeth aren’t lined up. Or they might do it because they have pain somewhere else in their bodies or because they’re stressed.

In many cases, it’s likely to be just a childhood habit that children grow out of.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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