Is it normal for my child to grind their teeth?

Childrens teeth after griding

Most children do grind their teeth at one age or another. This can occur anytime from the moment a baby begins to get teeth until permanent teeth erupt- and even some continue to grind their teeth their entire life. It is hoped that most children will stop grinding or clenching their teeth when their 6 year molars erupt. The six year molars erupt behind the baby molars and are higher or bigger teeth than the primary molars. This situation takes the pressure off of the baby molars and usually allows the child’s occlusion to begin to settle in on the six year molars. So, hopefully this habit will stop about the age of 6-7 years old.

The good news is that the grinding of the teeth at a young age rarely causes any damage to the teeth. It does wear the occlusal or chewing surface down, but usually does not cause the tooth to need to be restored. However, if a child already has dental restorations or fillings, they can be broken or damaged from this grinding. A stainless steel crown may be the treatment of choice on these teeth. The primary or baby teeth can become very short or flat due to this grinding and bruxing. This habit rarely causes any pain.

There is not much that a parent can do to stop the grinding or bruxing habit because it usually occurs at night during sleep. However, it is a good idea to discourage the child from grinding or clenching his teeth if he is doing it during the day. It is not practical to make a plastic night guard because it would not fit for more than a year due to the constantly changing baby teeth dentition. For example, every time a child would lose a tooth and a new permanent tooth would erupt, the rubber splint would need to be remade. If the child matures into his complete permanent teeth dentition and is still having symptoms from night grinding, it would be beneficial to have him evaluated for possible splint therapy.