Dentist Questions Teeth Grinding

My son grinds his teeth. What can you do to help him?

My son tends to grind his teeth while he's asleep, and I'm not sure what me or my husband can really do to stop this. Is there anything that you can recommend?

17 Answers

Of course to help you protect your teeth from grinding, it is advisable you see a dentist to check your bite, and possibly get a night guard or occlusal guard to protect other teeth from damage or fracture. I do not recommend medication. Grinding teeth can be due to bad bite, or possibly contributed to heredity factor and stress.
Sometimes kids do this when they are young and they stop grinding when they start losing teeth. If they are old enough to have all of their permanent dentition and he is still grinding, then you need to have a bite guard made to protect his teeth. Also, look at any medication that he takes, especially ADD meds, which have a tendency to cause grinding.
It is not uncommon for children to grind their teeth at night. Sometimes it is due to teeth that are erupting. Other kids are very intense and try to solve their problems while sleeping. It varies with children's age, and tooth position may also be a factor.
How old is your son? If he is getting adult teeth, this transition time is frequently accompanied by grinding. Get a mouth guard.
He needs to do the following:
1) Get a night guard, the hard plastic type
2) Exercise with him, saying "Lips together, teeth apart" before he goes to bed 
3) Try giving him some sort of medication to reduce his tension
If he is young, still has primary or "baby teeth," it's very common and the teeth may wear. Usually, when the adult teeth come in, this stops most often. If he only has adult teeth, a night guard may be recommended.
This is a good and common question. If your son is young (under 5), he will likely grow out of it without any treatment. If he is older, a night guard could be fabricated. More recent studies are showing that grinding is associated with sleep apnea. If you are noticing snoring or pauses in his breathing, take him to his pediatrician.

Hope this helps,

Jossi Stokes, DDS

If your son has baby teeth or mixed dentition, there's not much you can do for grinding of the teeth.
Clenching or grinding of the teeth, which we refer to as bruxism, is a genetically predisposed behavior and will continue throughout the course of one’s lifetime. If you or your husband clench their teeth, then it is very likely that your children, or at least 50% of them, will clench or grind their teeth. If your child is young, then they can wear a simple device at night to prevent the damage associated with clenching, however, that device will have to be replaced at least once every 18 to 24 months. If your child is 16 or above, in all likelihood a device can be made that could be worn for many years without being replaced frequently. In our office, we literally make hundreds of these types of appliances because bruxism is a very common phenomena.
First of all it’s important to know how old he is. Recent research shows s coorlation with sleep disorders and bruxism. Check with your dentist to see about airway and sleep
The orthodontist will perform an examination to determine what is causing the habit of bruxism which is extremely important to diagnose before recommending treatment. The orthodontist specialist who deals particularly with problems of the bite itself. Ask your dentist to refer you to one or consult your Yellow Pages for what is typically a free first examination
They grow out of it, and in my experience treatment is not necessary.
Grinding teeth is very common nowadays, especially if the kids are very active. When they are young and growing, you can try over-the-counter night guards as a temporary solution (the kind that they can use as they grow with the pads in the back to keep the teeth separated and that you don’t mould to fit your teeth).

Your son grinding his teeth can be related to several issues. It could be some sleep issue, teeth position or is during period of permanent teeth growth. We recommend an oral appliance that will help with grinding and at the same time will resolve any sleep related issues and teeth position.


Lisa Wu, DMD
Grinding of teeth is misunderstood as a bad thing. It isn't. Nature wants our teeth to fit and function in a very specific way. When they don't meet quite right, our brain is programmed to tell the muscles to grind away whatever is interfering with ideal contact. It's nature's way of doing its own dentistry. If it continues into the permanent teeth, then a dentist should be consulted to reshape the teeth with gentle forces using a process termed "occlusal adjustment".
Many times this is something that a child will out grow. But it may also indicate a breathing problem that could be associated with sinuses or tonsils. You may want to look into this with the child's physician.
Depending on the age, a custom night guard can be made to fit his teeth for wearing at night that won't easily come out while sleeping. For younger children, it's more difficult due to changing dentition. Sometimes a youth football mouthpiece can be useful.