Teeth-grinding (involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth) is pretty common in toddlers and preschool children- about 15% - 33% of children grind their teeth at some stage. Some kids clench their jaws firmly while some grind their teeth so hard that it's noisy. However, the grinding noise doesn’t generally wake up the child, although It might wake up other people in the room.

The medical term for teeth grinding is ‘Bruxism’. It usually goes away without treatment by 6 years; however, a few kids do continue to grind into adolescence and even adulthood.1,2

Why children grind their teeth?

Nobody can tell for sure why children grind their teeth. Few possible reasons could be:1,2

  • Their top and bottom teeth aren’t aligned
  • They are teething
  • They are experiencing pain somewhere else in their body (for instance, ear infection)
  • Stress

Is tooth grinding harmful?

Teeth-grinding rarely causes problems in children. In very few cases, where teeth-grinding is regular and strong, your kid might damage their teeth. Since the habit usually goes away before the permanent teeth come, in most cases it is unlikely to cause any damage to the teeth.1,2

When to consult a doctor?

It’s a good idea to visit a doctor if your child does the following things along with teeth-grinding: 1,2,3

  • Snores loudly
  • Breathes with their mouth open
  • Chokes or gasps while they are asleep

You should also consult your doctor if your child complains about pain in the jaw, headaches, or if you observe wear on their teeth.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Teeth Grinding in Children [Internet] [Updated on Set 18, 2013]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Teeth-Grinding-in-Children.aspx. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.
  2. Raising Children Network (Australia). Teeth-grinding. [Internet]. Available at: https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/sleep/night-time-problems/teeth-grinding. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) [Internet]. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10955-teeth-grinding-bruxism. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.