Say Goodbye to Grinding: Tips for Stopping Your Toddler’s Teeth-Clenching Habit

Do you cringe every time you hear the unmistakable sound of your toddler grinding their teeth? You’re not alone. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common issue among young children, affecting up to one-third of toddlers. Not only can it be concerning for parents to witness, but it can also lead to dental problems and discomfort for your little one. If you’re wondering how to stop your toddler from grinding their teeth, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explore the causes of teeth grinding in toddlers and provide practical tips to help put an end to this habit.

Understanding Why Toddlers Grind Their Teeth

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common habit among toddlers. While it may seem alarming to parents, it is actually quite normal and usually nothing to worry about. Many toddlers grind their teeth at some point during their developmental years, and usually outgrow this habit as they get older.

The main reason why toddlers grind their teeth is still somewhat of a mystery. Some experts believe that it could be related to stress or anxiety, while others suggest that it may be due to the teething process or an improper bite.


Teeth grinding often starts around the time when a toddler’s first few teeth begin to erupt. This could be because the sensation of new teeth coming in can be uncomfortable for them, resulting in teeth grinding as a way to cope with the discomfort.

Anxiety or Stress:

Just like adults, toddlers can also experience stress and anxiety. While they may not be able to communicate what is causing them to feel anxious or stressed, one way they may express this is through teeth grinding. This type of bruxism is usually temporary and tends to go away once the cause of stress or anxiety has been resolved.

Improper Bite:

Another possible reason for toddler teeth grinding is an improper bite. This means that their top and bottom teeth do not fit together properly when they clench their jaw. As a result, they may grind their teeth together as a way to try and get them to fit together better.

The Potential Consequences of Teeth Grinding

While toddler teeth grinding is typically harmless and does not cause any long-term damage, there are some potential consequences that parents should be aware of:

Tooth Damage:

If your toddler has been grinding their teeth for many months or even years, it could potentially lead to tooth damage. Constant grinding can wear down the enamel on their teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities and sensitivity.

Jaw Pain and Headaches:

Some toddlers may experience jaw pain and headaches as a result of teeth grinding. This is because excessive clenching of the jaw muscles can put strain on the muscles and joints, resulting in discomfort.

Disturbed Sleep:

In some cases, teeth grinding may disrupt your toddler’s sleep as well as yours. The sound of grinding can be loud enough to wake you or your child up at night, leading to poor quality sleep.

How to Stop Your Toddler from Grinding Their Teeth

While toddler teeth grinding may not cause any significant harm, it is still important for parents to address this habit and try to reduce or stop it altogether. Here are some strategies that can help:

Talk to Your Child’s Dentist:

If you have noticed that your toddler grinds their teeth frequently, bring it up with their dentist during their next check-up. They can check for any signs of damage and help determine the best course of action for your child.

Provide Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in helping toddlers change their behavior. Praise your child when they are not grinding their teeth and encourage them to continue this good behavior. This will help them associate not grinding with positive feelings, making them more likely to repeat this behavior.

Address Stress and Anxiety:

If you suspect that your toddler’s tooth grinding is due to stress or anxiety, try to identify the source of their distress. Finding ways to alleviate this stress or anxiety can help reduce or eliminate their teeth grinding.

Use a Night Guard:

For toddlers who grind their teeth at night, using a night guard can help protect their teeth from potential damage. You can purchase a custom-fit night guard from your child’s dentist or use a soft, pliable mouthguard designed for toddlers.

Be Patient:

Most importantly, be patient and give your child time to outgrow this habit. Teeth grinding is a natural part of their development and may stop on its own once they get older. In the meantime, keep an eye on their teeth and consult with their dentist if you have any concerns.

In Summary

Toddlers grinding their teeth is a relatively common habit that usually does not cause any harm. However, it is important for parents to understand why their child may be grinding their teeth and take steps to address it. By providing positive reinforcement, addressing stress or anxiety, using a night guard if necessary, and being patient, you can help your toddler break this habit and protect their teeth from potential damage. Remember to consult with your child’s dentist if you have any concerns or notice signs of tooth damage. With proper guidance and support, most toddlers outgrow this habit as they get older.

What Causes Teeth Grinding in Toddlers?

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common phenomenon in toddlers. It is estimated that 33% of children between the ages of 3 and 6 grind their teeth, with most cases occurring at night. While occasional teeth grinding is not usually a cause for concern, if it becomes a regular habit or it occurs during the day, it could lead to dental problems such as worn teeth, tooth pain, and jaw discomfort.

So what causes toddlers to grind their teeth? There are several factors that could contribute to this behavior. One of the most common causes is stress. Toddlers may experience stress due to changes in their daily routine, including starting daycare or preschool, moving to a new home, or having a new sibling. They may also be feeling anxious about an upcoming event like a doctor’s visit or going to school for the first time.

Another possible cause is misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite. When the top and bottom teeth do not fit together properly, it can create tension in the jaw muscles which leads to grinding. This can also occur when baby teeth are falling out and permanent teeth are coming in.

Additionally, some medical conditions such as cerebral palsy or sleep apnea can cause bruxism in toddlers. If you suspect that your child may have an underlying medical condition causing them to grind their teeth, it’s important to consult with your pediatrician.

How Can I Tell If My Toddler Is Grinding Their Teeth?

Since most cases of teeth grinding occur at night while your child is sleeping, you may not witness it happening. However, there are some tell-tale signs that your toddler may be grinding their teeth. These include:

– Loud grinding noises during sleep
– Complaints of jaw pain or tightness
– Worn down or chipped teeth
– Headaches or earaches in the morning
– Problems with eating or chewing
– Increased tooth sensitivity
– Facial pain or tenderness

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule a dental check-up to confirm that your child is grinding their teeth and to assess any damage that may have occurred.

Ways to Stop Toddler Teeth Grinding

Now that you understand the potential causes of toddler teeth grinding, let’s discuss some effective ways to stop this behavior.

1. Identify and Address Underlying Stressors: As mentioned before, stress is a common cause of teeth grinding in toddlers. If you suspect that your child may be feeling anxious about a certain situation, take time to talk to them and find ways to alleviate their stress. This could include reassuring them that everything will be okay, creating a comforting bedtime routine, or engaging them in calming activities such as reading or coloring.

2. Relaxation Techniques: Just like adults, toddlers can also benefit from relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. Before bedtime, spend some time practicing these techniques with your child to help them unwind and relax their jaw muscles.

3. Adjust Sleeping Positions: Toddlers who sleep on their stomachs are more prone to teeth grinding since it puts pressure on the jaw and can cause muscle tension. Try encouraging your child to sleep on their back instead.

4. Wear a Nightguard: A custom-fitted nightguard can help protect your toddler’s teeth from damage caused by grinding. Talk to your child’s pediatric dentist about getting one made if your child’s grinding is causing significant wear on their teeth.

5. Massage Their Jaw: Gentle massaging of the jaw muscles before bedtime can help relax tension in the area and prevent teeth grinding.

6. Encourage Good Oral Habits: Teach your toddler good oral hygiene habits early on so that they understand the importance of taking care of their teeth. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing, and avoiding sugary snacks and drinks.

When to Seek Professional Help

In most cases, toddler teeth grinding is a temporary habit that will eventually stop on its own. However, if it persists or causes significant damage to your child’s teeth, it’s important to seek professional help. Your pediatric dentist may recommend a visit to an orthodontist to assess any issues with your child’s bite or misaligned teeth.

Additionally, if you suspect that your child’s teeth grinding is caused by an underlying medical condition, consult with your pediatrician for further evaluation and treatment.


Teeth grinding in toddlers is a common but often worrisome behavior for parents. While occasional grinding is normal, regular or severe grinding can lead to dental problems and should be addressed. By identifying and addressing potential stressors, practicing relaxation techniques, and encouraging good oral habits, you can help your toddler break the habit of grinding their teeth. Consult with your child’s pediatric dentist if you have concerns or need assistance in stopping this behavior.

What causes toddlers to grind their teeth?
There are several reasons why toddlers grind their teeth, including teething, ear infections, stress or anxiety, and a misaligned jaw.

Is teeth grinding harmful for toddlers?
In most cases, occasional teeth grinding is not harmful for toddlers. However, chronic teeth grinding can cause damage to their teeth and jawbone.

How can I tell if my toddler is grinding his/her teeth?
Some signs that your toddler may be grinding his/her teeth include a clicking or popping sound while chewing, complaints of jaw pain or soreness, and visible wear or damage to the child’s teeth.

What can I do to help my toddler stop grinding his/her teeth?
Encouraging relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or using a warm compress on the jaw can help reduce stress and prevent teeth grinding. You can also try using a night guard or mouth guard prescribed by your child’s dentist.

Should I be worried about my toddler’s tooth grinding affecting their permanent teeth?
In most cases, your toddler’s tooth grinding will not impact their permanent teeth as long as they are practicing good oral hygiene. However, if you notice excessive wear or damage to their primary teeth, it is best to consult with a dentist.

Are there any underlying medical conditions that may contribute to my toddler’s tooth grinding?
In some cases, certain underlying medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, acid reflux, or sleep apnea may contribute to tooth grinding in toddlers. If you suspect your child may have an underlying condition, it is important to consult with a pediatrician for proper diagnosis and treatment.

In conclusion, grinding teeth in toddlers is a common issue that can be concerning for parents. It is important to understand the underlying causes of this behavior and take steps to address it effectively.

First and foremost, seeking professional advice from a pediatric dentist or pediatrician is crucial. They can rule out any dental issues or underlying medical conditions that may be causing the teeth grinding. Additionally, they can provide guidance on proper oral hygiene practices and recommendations for potential interventions.

Furthermore, implementing simple changes in the toddler’s daily routine such as reducing sugar intake, introducing stress-reducing activities, and creating a comfortable sleep environment can also make a significant difference in reducing teeth grinding.

It is also important for parents to remain patient and calm when trying to address this issue. Punishing or scolding the child may only increase their anxiety and exacerbate the teeth grinding.

By understanding the possible causes and implementing appropriate interventions, parents can help their toddler break the habit of grinding their teeth. Ongoing communication with healthcare professionals, consistent monitoring of behaviors, and providing a safe and stress-free environment are key elements in ensuring long-term success.

Ultimately, every child is unique and what works for one may not work for another. What remains constant is the importance of parental support and understanding during this challenging time. Remember to

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Lian Chikako Chang
Welcome to Littldata! Our mission is to help parents streamline their family logistics with practical tools and insights. Whether you’re managing school schedules, extracurricular activities, or family outings.

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Hi, I’m Lian Chikako Chang. I’m a data researcher and mom living in San Francisco. At Littldata, my goal is to help parents figure out their family logistics by sharing calendars, maps, lists, and spreadsheets–as well as research-backed blog posts and data graphics.

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