What Causes Teeth Grinding in Young Children Ages 2-6?



What is Bruxism or Teeth Grinding?

Teeth grinding, also known as Bruxism, is an unconscious action of forcefully grating teeth upon each other. For most individuals, this habit typically occurs at night, but some may also experience it throughout the day.

Why Does My Child Grind Their Teeth?

Children, ages 2-6, can suffer from Bruxism. Statistics show that an estimated 3 out of 10 kids grind their teeth before reaching the age of 5.

“The AAP notes that tooth grinding occurs in about 14% to 17% of children, and it can start very early in childhood, as soon as the upper and lower teeth have erupted through the gums.” (Brusie)

If your child is grinding or clenching, it is important to understand why this may be occurring. There can be many factors that may prompt this habit to form in a child, but there are two leading determinants, according to Dentists, that may result in a child suffering from Bruxism.

The two most frequent causes of Bruxism in a child are:

1.) Insufficient airway
2.) Incorrect or deficient Orthodontic/Jaw development

Insufficient airways in a child can be a reason to which they may suffer from Bruxism. This can be in the form of enlarged tonsils, adenoids (which obstruct the airway and make it difficult to breathe) the bite, shape, size of the upper jaw, and position of upper and lower jaws. The upper jaw is also the floor of the nose. When it is narrow or tall, the airflow through the nose is impeded. The lower jaw houses the tongue and if things are underdeveloped there is nowhere for the tongue to go, and this impedes breathing too. Generally, these concerns can all be directed to an orthodontic and ENT team. Not all doctors are familiar with these concerns, and it is important to research and ask questions when needed.

Orthodontic/Jaw development is also a major concern for children with Bruxism. If a child’s bite is misaligned, then their lower jaw will shift around at night, trying to find a place to rest. All the rotation from the jaw will result in grinding.


Bruxism can be a very damaging habit amongst young children, it is important to see your dentist regarding it to understand the underlying issue. If your child frequently wakes up throughout the night, has repetitive headaches, toothaches, or damage to soft tissues of the mouth, reach out to your dentist immediately to help you navigate a treatment plan to subside your child’s grinding.