What Can Stop My Child from Teeth Grinding in Their Sleep?

Mar 02, 2024

 What Can Stop My Child from Teeth Grinding in Their Sleep?

The likelihood of suffering from various health concerns tends to increase as we age. In the case of teeth grinding at night, however, children are just as vulnerable as adults.

 Also known as asleep bruxism, nighttime teeth grinding affects up to half of children, with the exact number hard to determine as many don't realize they’re doing it unless a parent notices it. In contrast, it’s believed that only about one in 10 adults grind their teeth at night.

 Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help reduce this harmful, involuntary habit.

 Angel Kids Pediatrics provides high quality, personalized pediatric care for our patients from birth through late adolescence at our 10 offices conveniently located throughout Jacksonville, Amelia Island, and Saint Johns, Florida.  

In addition to offering the usual sick visits and well-child exams, our knowledgeable pediatric specialists can help diagnose and treat other physical and mental health concerns, including nighttime teeth grinding. Here’s what you should know. 

Understanding asleep bruxism

Clenching or grinding can exert up to 250 pounds of force on the teeth. Most often it occurs during stages one and two of non-REM sleep, which occur early in the sleep cycle. Episodes typically last up to one second, and may happen anywhere from just a few times to more than 100 times a night.

The dangers of bruxism

Unconscious nighttime teeth grinding can damage your child’s teeth, resulting in worn down or chipped enamel and dental pain. It can also lead to issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), including popping or clicking noises and problems chewing. Headaches as well as face, ear, or jaw pain can develop as well.

What causes bruxism?

Experts are still studying the exact cause of bruxism, but it seems likely multiple factors are at play. Babies may grind their teeth to self-soothe while teething. Toddlers and older children could be suffering from stress that unconsciously prompts them to release daytime tension at night by clenching and grinding their teeth.

 While cause and effect have not yet been linked, experts have observed that bruxism occurs more often in children who have other chronic health concerns, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), migraine, trouble sleeping, and developmental disorders.

Here’s how to stop asleep bruxism

There are a number of things you can do to help alleviate your child's teeth grinding. Our team may recommend one or more of the following:

Help reduce their stress

Managing your child’s stress is often central to easing nighttime grinding. Talk with your child to find out what might be upsetting them, and try to soothe their concerns. You can also seek help from one of our pediatric mental health specialists.

Bedtime routine and relaxation

Improving your child's sleep quality may aid in reducing teeth grinding. Keep their bedroom quiet and dark, and limit sugary foods and screen time before bedtime. Establish a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine. This could include giving them a warm bath, cuddling, reading, or listening to soft music.

Relax tight facial muscles

You may be able to reduce grinding at night by taking steps during the day to help relax your child’s facial muscles, using warm or cool compresses, stretching exercises, or massage. Don’t give them chewing gum or hard foods, which can worsen asleep bruxism.

Nightguard use

A specialized splint or night guard can assist in reducing symptoms by repositioning your child’s jaw — with the added bonus of protecting their teeth.

Put an end to your child’s nighttime grinding  

Learning to navigate the world can be stressful for children. If you've tried to manage their nighttime teeth grinding at home without success, we can help. Call or click online to schedule an appointment at your nearest Angel Kids Pediatrics office in Jacksonville, Amelia Island, or Saint Johns, Florida, today.