Advice about Teeth Grinding

Parent Q&A

Select any title to view the full question and replies.

  • Has anyone found a great resource for dealing with bruxism?  I've had this issue for a few years but lately I've started waking up with sharp headaches from night time clenching and grinding, pain in my molars, and several of my front teeth have chipped. (!!) My dentist has prescribed me a night guard, but it seems to just make me grind more (though protects my teeth.) Has anyone solved this issue, and/or found a dentist or practitioner who was particularly helpful? [Note:  I know you're supposed to meditatie, relax, etc. but I'm a single mom running my own company during a pandemic so ... looking for something external while I try and find time for the internal :]  Thank you!

    Hi there! I am so sorry to hear about your bruxism. It's an issue I've been dealing with for years. It has gotten way better lately (even during the pandemic), and to be honest I think much of the improvement stems from seeing a therapist and doing meditation, unfortunately for your current situation. However, there are a couple of things that might help you short term.

    One is adding a magnesium supplement to your diet. Many people are low in magnesium and if you drink alcohol at all, you are definitely low because it makes you pee it out. It helps with muscle stiffness and stress. I take 400mg of magnesium glycinate daily and definitely notice if I miss a dose. I believe it may help your muscles relax at night, particularly if you are wearing a night guard. Note that there are lots of different forms of magnesium, but was told by a doctor friend that in glycinate form, it can best be absorbed by your body.

    Second is my previous dentist in SF prescribed a special night guard that of course isn't covered by insurance and costs an arm and a leg (I think $3,000?). She first did a sleep study to make sure I didn't have sleep apnea. Then, when making the night guard, they put these sensors on that relax the muscles in your jaw. Then they make the mold so that your teeth fit together when your jaw is relaxed. The guard is rigid and goes on your bottom teeth. I have to admit, it was not the life-changer I thought it would be and was super disappointed at first that I had spend the money. However, it is definitely the best night guard I've had (and I've had many), and I can't imagine trying to sleep without it.

    Third, my current dentist said what he believes is most effective is physical therapy. Because my TMJ is not an issue right now, I haven't pursued this option, but it may be worth looking in to. I have some exercises my old dentist gave me that I can send you if you DM me.

    I hope you find some relief soon! I have so many crowns from years of grinding and even had to have a root canal on one because the crack when down to the nerve. It is definitely worth the time and money to ease it. Best wishes!

    botox into the masseter muscle? I had it once and it had a noticeable effect worked.

    Go see an osteopath!!! It’s expensive, definitely, but very effective. And dental bills are expensive too- plus much less relaxing! I went to a practitioner in Albany at 902 Santa Fe, for back/hip/leg pain (that was also cured by osteopathy) but right away was asked about dental problems and very quickly saw improvements in my near constant jaw clenching (I had recently cracked a tooth all the way through). Can’t recommend it enough. Good luck! 

    You might try getting a biofeedback device.

    I recommend giving up (or drastically cutting back on) caffeine and chocolate. 

    When I was working 100+ hrs/wk hours doing stressful legislative work with only volunteers and no funding, I started to grind my teeth

    and developed sleep disorder.  Hypnotizing myself using a simple technique of just telling myself what I will do and how I will relax my jaw

    throughout the night as well as get deep sleep... it saved me. The sleep part, I saw a hynpotist in Chicago who is amazing and saved

    my health after not sleeping through the night for 4 months.  There's a book called 'hypnotize yourself: that I can fish out if you are interested in the 


Archived Q&A and Reviews

Teeth grinding in Children Teeth grinding in Adults

Teeth grinding at 8 months

March 2009

Our 8 mo. old sometimes grinds his teeth, he has six- four on top two on bottom. Is this anything to be concerned about or is he just doing it because he can and it will pass? Jen

Babies do that sometimes - I think they are experimenting with the new sound. I wouldn't worry about it.

From what I've been told by doctors, people either grind or they don't. As it was explained to me, there is a grinding switch that is either turned on or it's off. I don't recall grinding as a child but I definitely do as an adult and have cracked numerous teeth and have had two crowns and now wear a customized night guard. If your little one is grinding in another 6 - 12 months, you should consider discussing it with a dentist.

1 y.o. grinding his front teeth

November 2007

My one year old has been grinding his front teeth for a little while now...I thought he was just getting used to the newness of his teeth, but since he's still doing it, I am worried that this is becoming a habit for him. How does one break a habit like this for a toddler? Julie

My daughter went through a teeth-grinding phase at around 11 months. One of the other babies at her day care did the same thing - much to the surprise of the center's director of 20 years who had never seen it before. I too was worried about the impacts it would have, but they both grew out of it on their own. I don't recall exactly how long it was before she stopped - but at least 1 month. I would wait a couple of months before getting too worried about it. jg

Just wanted to let you know that our [now 4-year old] daughter used to grind her teeth, too. Drove me nuts--not because I cared about hearing it, but because I cared about what it meant, and whether she was ruining her teeth. Somewhere along the way, it stopped, between the age of 1 and 2. I remember feeling like she was going to grind her teeth forever, because it lasted so long. Her teeth have been fine at her dental checkups. I never found any info indicating that grinding at such a young age was going to cause problems down the road. Been there

I don't know if you can get them out of the habit. Our dentist and our doctor told us some kids just do it. I did it as a kid too. Just try not to listen to it if you want to sleep yourself. Mine does it less now that she's a little bigger. Also, try to have a stress-free evening before bed. Sometimes it helps.

16-month-old grinds his teeth

March 2007

My 16 month old grinds his teeth. The sound is terrible and I am concerned he is doing harm to his teeth and who knows what else. It seems like a bad habit to have so young. Have I driven him to this (just kidding, sort of)? Any ideas to get him to stop grinding would be great. The pacifier doesn't do it. I can distract him with food but I'd like to find other ways as well. Thanks! anon

Our son too did the same thing for a while once a bunch of teeth were in. It seemed more like an exploratory exercise than anything else. After a couple of weeks, he moved on to other things. You might not be so lucky though if you let on that you find it grating...... Anon

Hi! My Dad is a veterinarian and he's sure that a lot of teeth grinding in children (and adults for that matter) comes from worms!! If your toddler plays in sand at the park or dirt of any kind really, there's a chance that they are in contact with worm eggs from pet defecation. The most common kind of worm to cause teeth grinding is apparently the pin worm (they live in the intestine and crawl outside the body at night to lay eggs causing itchiness). There are many de-worming medications available at the pharmacy - it's definitely something to check out with your pediatrician! The teeth grinding could obviously be caused by something else, but this is a quick and easy thing to try. I know it's worked for some! Daughter of a Vet

mine did, to the point that her front teeth are half as tall as they were when they first came in. it started (along with fingernail biting) when i night weaned her at 28mos. it seemed worse on nights where her eczema was also worse. i've recently heard that the homeopathic remedy ''cina'' can help, but she'd already stopped by the time i heard this (she's almost 6), so i haven't tried it to know if it would have worked. her dentist was not concerned, and felt she wouldn't be likely to continue to grind when her adult teeth came in, from his experience. signed: mama of a former grinder

2-year-old started grinding his teeth a month ago

Sept 2005

My two-year old son started grinding his teeth about a month ago. I had a really poor reaction to it initially, and overdramatized my request that he stop. I was just so shocked that my mommy-veneer lapsed momentarily. Since then, it seems to be an attention getter for him. I've been flat-out ignoring it, which seems to work ok when he's doing it to actively seek attention, however, he also will start grinding his teeth when we tell him no, or inforce discipline. We've always been very gentle and respectful of him; however, there has been a great deal of tension between my husband and me starting a few months back. We've done our best to keep explicit arguments out of earshot and view, but I know the implict tension is impacting him.

I know that this could be damaging to his teeth, but I'm most concerned about addressing the underlying causes of this behavior. I did think it might be teething related for awhile, as he was cutting molars, but if it ever was, it has definitely progressed beyond that.

Any thoughts or suggestions or experiences would be helpful. Signed, About to start grinding my own teeth

I did a paper on bruxism because of its occurrence in my own family and a new nutrition client. Certainly stress can predispose one to do it, as you seem to have observed. Since that may the ultimate underlying cause, perhaps it could be a focus for solving the problem. Nutritional support for stress include nutrient dense foods that are high in vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin C complex (ascorbate and bioflavonoids). Some herbs that can help include camomile and lemon balm. At night, a few useful minerals (as a liquid) might be calcium and magnesium, appropriate to his age and weight. Nori

26 month old grinds her teeth a lot

June 2004

My 26 month old grinds her teeth a lot. I am worried about the effects this could have on her--e.g., tooth damage, headaches. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get her to stop or if this is harming her in any way? thanks. b

I just read an article on about this that said tooth grinding is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about with baby teeth. amy

Is stress causing toddler's teeth grinding?

April 2004

When checking on my toddler late at night, I've found him grinding his teeth while he sleeps. Could it be a sign of stress? We have a lot going on... a new ''big boy bed'', a 5- month old baby and a new work schedule for dad that takes dad away from the house a lot. What can I do to get him to stop? I checked the archives but I didn't see anything on this topic. Thanks so much, oh wise parents! A concerned mom

My 5 year old also grinds his teeth, and when I mentioned it to his dentist, she said it was fairly common in young kids, who eventually outgrow it. The theory is that they dream more actively at that age. You might mention it to your dentist when you take your kid in, but I wouldn't worry about it. Wendy

Our dentist told us that toddlers grind and it isn't a cause for worry. I'll be interested to here what others have been told. EM

I also grind my teeth. I never knew I did until two different dentists told me I did. So your child's dentist may be a good resource for advice and whether any treatment is necessary. anon

I was just at the dentist yesterday discussing this very topic. My six year old son is also a night time teeth grinder (and it gets loud!). Apparently this is very common in children. Still, I would point it out to the dentist on your next visit. They need to monitor it for wear and tear on your child's teeth and to make sure it isn't causing any problems. It isn't stress related, the dental assistant told me as their jaw grows they often grind at night. Mom of night time grinder

The new theories of grinding are that it is a neurological disorder that you are either born with or not and that there also may be a hereditary factor. Stress can definately cause it to happen more. There really is no treatment for it for children. Most kids who are heavy grinders ( I was one also) wear their baby teeth down to nothing. When the permanent teeth come in, they are usually fine until after age 20 when they can use an appliance to protect them from premature wear. I wouldn't worry about it, it is very very common. DDS mom

2-year-old grinding teeth since he got his molars

Dec 2002

This is an odd one, and I'm not even sure I should be worried, but here goes: After his molars arrived (later than average), my two-year-old started to occassionally grind his teeth. At first I thought it was just experimentation, another interesting thing to do with the new teeth. But he has started doing it more lately. Now he frequently walks around with his lower jaw jutting out, with a forced underbite. If I suggest he stop doing either thing, true to toddler nature, he just does it more. Should I be worried about any of this? Any advice about how to help him stop before these behaviors become bad habits? Baffled Parent

There's a reassuring article about teeth grinding in toddlers on BabyCenter: Read it and stop worrying! --Dana

Teeth grinding or bruxism is fairly common. 30% of children often exhibit tooth grinding, particularly before the age of 5 []. One writer proposes that bruxism in children may function as part of the tooth-losing process [], although only at age 5 do children begin to lose their milk teeth. Possible causes, for my own research, include food allergies/sensitivities/intolerances, parasites (threadworms in particular), stress, illness, nutrient deficiencies, and malocclusion. If your child has not been seen by a dentist, this may be a good time to go, particularly to rule out anatomical/physiological factors. Further, you may wish to avail yourself of the help of a nutritionist to determine if foods (or lack) can be playing a role. Good luck! It is a tough habit to break. Nori Hudson

Three-year-old is grinding his teeth at night

March 1999

Any one out there with experience with teeth grinding in toddlers? I just noticed that my three and a half year old son grinds his teeth while he sleeps. The sound is really terrible! I tried to gently pry open his mouth without success so I ended up turning him over, which didn't really help. Any ideas? His dentist said to make sure he quits grinding before it becomes a habit but how do I help him quit? Thanks!

My kids' dentist, Vivian Lopez, said NOT to worry about kids grinding their teeth--that it's not a predictor of adult teeth grinding.

4 1/2 year old grinding teeth!

Sept 2003

My 4 1/2 year old daughter is grinding her teeth at night - something horrible! As she sleeps with us, it is driving my husband and I crazy, and we worry that it is a dental risk. We would like to try many options before taking her to a dentist. Thank you. Jacqueline

My son, also 4 1/2, has been grinding his teeth ever since they appeared, and does it so enthusiastically that he has woken me up in the middle of the night from across the hall. His dentist assured us that this is very common in kids, and that most outgrow it at some point. He checked my son's teeth to make sure they looked okay, and told us not to worry about it. So far, we have not discovered any way to dissuade him from grinding. Wakeful Mom

Teeth grinding and facial pain

May 2006

I have been grinding my teeth since I was a child and using a mouth guard for 3 years, but I feel the facial tension is getting worse recently. I also have developed a facial tick and it seems they are related. I read the earlier postings on the subject and they were helpful, but I would love to hear more about alternative treatment (such as biofeedback) and exercises. Thank you for any information you might have on this. Anon

I have had the same problem since I was 10 yrs old. I have worn a night guard for years. No help to the facial pains until I tried a new way that my massage therapist had told me. He use to work at a Dental Spa and now at Spa de Esperanza. He said to do these excercises on my jawline and worked on my jawline during my massages. It has helped. Ultimately I have been told by my uncle, who is a dentist that it is stress caused. Having the night guard is one piece of the puzzle and you have to have the right one. One that doesn't allow your teeth to flex back and forth. The other part is self massage to relax the muscle movements. Oh, and chewing gum makes it worse (just found that out from another dentist) It sounds strange, but I had serious pains in my face and headaches that got worse. Now I have relief and my husband says I don't grind at night like I use to. I can't describe the massages, but go to the Spa and ask for Paul. He is better at showing you. I hope you find relief. Painful teeth

Have you ever tried CranioSacral Therapy for your TMJ and facial pain? CST is one of the most effective therapies for TMJ pain. CranioSacral Therapy treats the whole person. So during treatment we would be working improving the tight muscles and tissues of the head, neck and facial bones and we would also be working with any related emotional issues that are held in your body and impeding your healing. Check out this link below, which speaks about this wonderfully (or do your own google searches for Craniosacral Therapy and TMJ). Sirena

I would not be surprised in many people reply to your post. I know how you feel-- though my main problem was TMJ. What I discovered was that, even though the symptoms are on the face, it is not just happening there. Unless you have some rare congenital condition or illness, the discomfort you described is related to overall patterns from head to toe. That is why medicine and mouthguards might give some relief but will do little for long term change. Acupuncture can definitely help lesson the symptoms, perhaps even give long term relief, but I'd recommend lessons in the Alexander Technique because it teaches you how to transform your movement and tension habits in a way that you will be able to work on yourself without a need for doctors or mouthguards. Five lessons is probably a good start. I really enjoyed and learned a lot of things I didn't expect to learn about myself. There are a lot of good teachers in Berkeley and Oakland. Check out for teachers. I've been to Fay Putnam (who is also a voice teacher) and Marcus Hewlett. Both are excellent. One other thing I did which was also very helpful was do the Rolfing ten-series which, maybe on the seventh or eigth session, did a lot of deep tissue work inside the mouth in the jaw area. This was a bit uncomfortable but gave a tremendous relief. It's more expensive though! I went to Audrey Mei in Berkeley. She was fantastic. good luck. you can change these habits!! g in B

If you're clenching and grinding - make an appointment with Dr. Mitchel Corwin - 845 3246. My husband and I wore mouth guards for years. (and hated the night time mouth guards) Reducing stress and yoga has also helped tremendously by relaxing the shoulders. Try the Berkeley Yoga Room in the Julia Morgan Center - great teachers no longer clenching

As you saw on the earlier postings, many people grind their teeth at night, and are helped by nightguards. Nightguards stop the teeth from getting worn down, and can make clenching tightly less easy. While night guards deal directly with the symptom, your question implies that you want to look at alternative approaches to deal with the cause as well. Most clenching is from a reaction to stress-it's a contraction that affects the head/neck relationship as well as the whole face. As an Alexander Technique teacher, I teach students how to consciously un-do contraction and allow more feedom and mobility throughout the self. My students who have had TMJ have had great success applying the Alexander practice to their jaws, so it's worth an experiment. I have little experience with biofeedback, but it seems like another great resource for self care. Good luck! Constance

Facial pain and twitching can be a very common symptom of grinding. I am an acupuncturist and have treated this in my office many times (In fact, this must be a big issue right now because I saw 6 people with TMJ pain this week alone). Anyway, the tick is most likely a more advanced symptom of the chronic muscle tension and lack of oxygen to the affected muscles. Acupuncture works in the way that it encourages much needed oxygen and blood circulation to the facial muscles, which allow them to relax. It also helps to restore your nervous system and the biochemistry that is keeping your teeth in a grinding state. The effect should be felt rather quickly and have long lasting results. Biofeedback is also a wonderful option because it can help you to learn how to relax your facial muscles. Hypnotherapy could also be an option. I know a wonderful hypnotherapist in Berkeley if you are interested. In addition, a dentist with whom I network was just telling me about a small insertion piece the size of an eraser (not a mouthgaurd) that encourages your muscles to relax. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions. Maureen