Gnashing of teeth in children (bruxism)

Grinding of teeth in children (bruxism)

Aaargh! This nasty sound is somewhat reminiscent of the scratching of school chalk on the blackboard. It puts your neck hair up and every nerve gets into high tension. Many a child does this quite consciously, others, however, only in their sleep: grinding their teeth – also called bruxism. If children grind their teeth during the day, they could run out of their skin. Not only because rubbing the teeth together gives us parents goosebumps, but also because we are concerned about dental health. The teeth and the temporomandibular joint are stressed quite a bit, not to mention the cramped facial muscles. Does it have to be that way? Can you somehow get rid of the gnashing of teeth in children?

Where does the grinding of teeth in children come from??

One should observe adults who have maintained this behavior. One thing is striking here: Often these are people who literally bite into things and do not let up until a problem is solved. Their stress, pressure to perform and their fears are expressed in physical tension, especially in the area of ​​the face. Where others chew their fingernails or pluck their cuticles, run nervously up and down or act out small ticks, the inner tension becomes visible through the grinding of their teeth audible. Many of these habits can already be avoided in childhood.

Because, gnashing of teeth in children has various causes, some of which run the risk of becoming a habit in the long term:


  • Try out
    If the cause of the teeth grinding in the children is pure curiosity, parents need not worry. The little ones research their newly acquired teeth. In this way, gnashing of teeth in children can also be attributed to the oral phase, which babies also experience extensively, in which all objects are examined with the mouth. Rubbing the tooth surfaces creates strange noises and feelings that need to be explored. The grinding of teeth is usually short-lived.
  • deformities
    In rare cases, jaw misalignments can be responsible for children gritting their teeth. A dentist or orthodontist can determine this and, if necessary, fix it with braces, for example.
  • Provocation / attention
    Children vie for their parents’ attention in a variety of ways. A particularly simple trick to get them to you as quickly as possible is to do things that the parents dislike. If the grinding of the teeth is followed immediately by a reprimand or just a physical reaction from the parents (such as closing the ears or shaking shoulders due to the unpleasant noise), the child has achieved its will. So if you pay a lot of attention to the gnashing of teeth at the beginning, you can increase the gnashing of teeth in children instead of preventing it.
  • Relief of internal pressure
    Some children cannot easily express insecurities, fears or worries. Be it due to a lack of language skills, an inner inhibition towards the parents or a lack of awareness about it (some children grind especially during sleep and are not aware of it). A mental overload requires a valve. The child’s body tightens when it grinds its teeth and it feels as if the pressure could somehow escape through the rubbing. If stress is the cause of gnashing of teeth in various ways, it is important to find ways to reduce it differently, since gnashing of teeth, like other self-injurious behaviors, can become permanent in children.

When will it be questionable?
Between trying and reacting

Grinding teeth in children therefore only really becomes a topic that parents have to worry about when the child is older than three years. At around three years of age, the young dentition with its milk teeth developed completely. Any teeth grinding is no longer due to trying out the new bit, but in most cases an expression of excessive stress. Parents often notice that their children do not constantly grind, but this phenomenon appears cyclically. If the cause is psychosomatic (i.e. mental), then parents should listen and see exactly what happens in their children’s lives when teeth grinding becomes more intense again. Perhaps the monthly vocabulary test is due or performance will be checked in the sports club. Increased pressure to perform can have a negative impact on the little ones.

If all milk teeth are broken and the grinding does not stop, then parents with their little angels should not shy away from the way to the dentist.

What are the consequences of teeth grinding in children?

Children should relax in their sleep. But those who grind their teeth at night often lack the necessary relaxation. Because, when sleeping, the jaw muscle of children who grind their teeth is not loose and relaxed, but tightens. The tongue presses firmly against the palate and the lower jaw slowly rotates back and forth to relieve stress.

This phenomenon can cause significant damage to the teeth and various other long-term consequences for the affected children.

  • Enamel loss
    For example, without realizing it, they break down the protective enamel and loosen their teeth.
  • temperature sensitivity
    The heavily stressed teeth become sensitive to cold and heat. Ice cream will soon no longer be fun.
  • Long-term consequence: posture problems
    It is particularly worrying, however, that children who already grind their first teeth often transfer this into adulthood. In principle, they cannot get rid of their bad habits with age. About eight percent of all Germans grind their teeth so violently that the jaw muscle hardens and the jaw joint is affected. Crunching can even have a negative effect on other parts of the body. So people who grind often have to deal with back and neck pain or posture problems. To fix teeth grinding, you have to start at the root of the problem.

Stop grinding teeth in children

Because the only real need for action is chronic gnashing of teeth, the most important way to get away from grinding is to relax and reduce stress. But there are other little helpers in the fight against teeth grinding in children.

Become active when grinding your teeth

  • Toothed rails / bite rails / crunch rails
    What helps adult grunters is also successfully used in children. Crunch splints made of soft plastic are adapted to the tooth shape of the upper or lower jaw. They then act as a protective shield for the teeth. In addition, they correct the bite position of the teeth so that they do not rub directly against one another. The jaw muscle and the corresponding joint are relieved. However, a bite splint should not be the only problem for children when crunching. Because, the first quick solution will not cause the crunch to stop.
  • homeopathy with bruxism
    Parents who are convinced of homeopathy often find the homeopathic remedies Tuberculinum Bovinum C200 and Cina D6 Globuli, which are particularly useful in the case of teeth grinding in children. In order to find the really optimal homeopathic remedy for gnashing of teeth in children, the individual >

Alternatives to reducing stress can lead to long-term goals. There are various techniques here. Especially those children who grind their teeth at night often respond well to breathing exercises, encouragement or various anti-stress therapies.

  • Redirect tension
    It is often enough for children who only grind directly in a stressful situation or with fear to get rid of the internal pressure physically differently than with gritting their teeth. For example, flatterers or a kneading bag can help as an alternative valve.
  • If the cause of the gnashing of teeth in children is pure curiosity or the search for attention, parents should try (as far as this works under this common background noise) to relax and respond as little as possible to the behavior. Usually, this habit disappears just as quickly as it emerged. If the grinding continues, especially at night, you should have your teeth or children’s teeth checked regularly by a dentist and try to fight the teeth grinding in the children with the above options.

    As with all educational issues, however, pressure in any form is always counterproductive in the long term!

    I’m Lisa, but most of all "mummy" :) As the mother of two school-age children, it is now finally over with the cute baby phase. For some time now, real life has welcomed me every morning with two growing individuals. And that’s it. I would like to share as many good ideas, my own experience reports and helpful tips for raising children with my readers on children’s tips. On my blog, I actually deal with all topics related to everyday life with children. Facebook | Twitter.

    Additional items from Lisa. Lisa’s website.

    Neeltje July 22, 2019 at 10:17 p.m.

    Interesting that misaligned jaws can also be responsible for teeth grinding. I also think that maybe this could be the case with my daughter. Maybe we’ll have to see an orthodontist.

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