Why Is Your Toddler Grinding Their Teeth?

You might think that only adults grind their teeth, but it can actually be seen in very young children too. Grinding can be harmful to teeth, whether those teeth are permanent or not. But why would a toddler grind their teeth? For parents, understanding the why is necessary for determining how best to solve the problem.

A Temporary Habit

Like many bad habits, your toddler might simply grow out of their grinding. They will need to be reminded that rubbing their teeth together isn't a good thing, but this can only happen if you should directly observe them doing it. Clearly, this won't be possible if your child grinds their teeth while they sleep.

Talk to Your Dentist

Consult your family dentist about the issue. It doesn't warrant an urgent appointment, but be sure to raise the matter at your child's next dental appointment. Ask if your child is demonstrating the early indications of dental malocclusion. This is the technical term for a misalignment of the bite, as in the biting surfaces of the upper and lower teeth don't come into appropriate contact when the jaw is closed. This misalignment can be what is causing your toddler to grind their teeth.

Genetic and Environmental

Dental malocclusion can have genetic causes, as in this misalignment is simply the way in which your child's teeth and jaw have developed. There can also be environmental causes, such as thumb sucking and excessive pacifier use. These environmental causes can be overcome with behavioral changes, but there's little that can be done to prevent genetic causes. Orthodontic treatment might prove to be necessary, and it's best that this need is identified as early as possible. If your child's teeth are indicating accelerated wear and tear, your family dentist can offset this damage using dental sealants to protect your toddler's teeth.


For some toddlers, the cause of their grinding is a mystery. If this is the case, you should consider these other causes. Stress isn't always an adult problem, although the reasons for a toddler's stress are going to be different. Consider whether your toddler is dealing with any specific fears or anxieties and take steps to help them overcome these problems. These fears and anxieties might be due to certain events or changes at home, but they could also happen outside of the home. You might wish to talk to your child's preschool teacher, just to rule out any stress triggers that your child might be facing, such as bullying.

Teeth grinding can weaken your child's teeth, leading to a range of dental problems. This is why it's important to get to the root of the problem as early as possible.