Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth, commonly at night

The term clenching means tightly clamping your top and bottom teeth together. This happens especially with the back teeth. The stressful force of clenching causes pressure on the muscles, tissues and other structures around your jaw. This can lead to jaw joint disorders, jaw pain and soreness, headaches, earaches, damaged teeth and other problems. These symptoms are often collectively referred to as “TMD” or temperomandibular joint dysfuntion.

Many children who clench also grind their teeth. Grinding is when you slide your teeth over each other, generally in a sideways, back-and-forth movement. This action may wear down your teeth and be noisy enough at night to bother sleeping partners. Like clenching, grinding can lead to jaw pain and other problems.

The question is why does a child grind his or her teeth

Bruxism in children can be caused generally by struggling to breathe through a compromises airway (sleep apnoea ie cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or longer or other sleep disturbances)

If your child has ANY ONE or MORE of the following symptoms with grinding then they should be checked by us

  1. mouth breathing
  2. worn down teeth
  3. night terrors
  4. snoring or even noisy breathing in younger children
  5. bedwetting
  6. multiple ear infections
  7. headaches
  8. dark circles under eyes or eye bags
  9. chapped lips and red bleeding gums
  10. large tonsils and adenoids
  11. hearing problems
  12. lack of attention at school
  13. hyperactivity (ADHD)

Its is very important to understand that Growth and Development of the Face can be affected by breathing problems leading to smaller jaws and therefore crooked teeth. If we can pick the problems earlier in life then we can prevent the need for extensive treatment in the future.

Migraine, cluster headaches, hypnic headache, morning (tension) headache in both adults and children are related to sleep apnoea and disturbed sleep.

Headaches have been found in 65% of patients with nocturnal bruxism (night time grinding).

People who grind their teeth use 3 times the force than people who do not.

Bruxism happens as a subconscious activity and therefore unawareness of the activity is common. Children grind their teeth more when they are on their backs and they also suffer more sleep apnoea in that position.


The basic outline of treatment is to initially treat the cause of teeth grinding.

The need for treating chronic pain, breathing and sleep disorders and anxiety is necessary to stop a child from bruxing.

A full history and evaluation is necessary so that the right diagnosis and treatment can be administered.

The most common cause being sleep disordered breathing means that your child needs to be checked tomake sure their jaw are developing well so there is no obstruction to their breathing.

Jaw development is observed and made sure your child does not have slightly smaller underdeveloped jaws and therefore causing obstruction to the airways.

A referral to an ENT surgeon who is trained in understanding the relationship between bruxism and sleep disorders needs to be involved if there are any adenoids and tonsils causing the blockage of breathing.

If you would like to know more about Bruxism in Sydney, Teeth Grinding in Sydney or Teeth Clenching in Sydney or Occlusal Splint in Sydney please contact Smile Concepts directly by clicking here or ringing 02 9267 7777

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