Bruxism is the medical term for grinding the teeth or clenching the jaws.
A lot of kids grind or clench their teeth during the day or night. They often are not even aware that they're doing it. Kids who grind their teeth can get headaches, earaches, a sore jaw, or sensitive teeth. The grinding might start to wear down their teeth.
Some kids grind their teeth when in pain (like with an ear infection) or under stress. Grinding also might happen when the top and bottom teeth don't line up properly. Some health conditions (such as allergies, certain infections, cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome) and certain medicines also can lead to teeth grinding.
Most kids outgrow teeth grinding as they get older and often do not need any treatment. If a cause for the grinding (such as an ear infection) is found, the doctor will treat it.
If teeth aren't lined up correctly, fixing their position can help with grinding. For kids who have pain or are wearing down their teeth, the doctor or dentist might recommend a night guard. This is a piece of plastic worn over the teeth to prevent grinding during sleep. Relaxation techniques can help if a child is stressed or anxious.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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