One of the most common questions parents ask us here at Kona Kids is ‘We just got back from camping and you wouldn’t believe how loud my toddler  grinds their teeth!  Is there something we can do for that?’   

The truth is that if an adult or teenager grinds their teeth at nighttime, joint pain or TMD (Tempromandibuilar Joint Disorder) can occur. Luckily for kids, TMJ symptoms are almost nonexistent in children under 10.   In fact, a recent sleep study showed that over 90% of children ages 2-9 grind their teeth at nighttime and fortunately, none of these ‘grinders’ had any symptoms.    We do commonly see various degrees of dental wear on the baby teeth and very rarely does this cause an issue.   

Does it ever hurt? 

Some discomfort can occur on very late teethers- usually boys who have such severe wear from grinding that you almost don’t see the teeth anymore.   So that means, if your child’s baby teeth are coming out at a normal time and they don’t look almost gone from the wear, then the risk is very very low for there to be a problem.    If you have any questions, always feel free to give us a call anytime here at Kona Kids either at 503-620-2777 or email questions to  

What about the new adult teeth? 

While nighttime teeth grinding happens through age 9, the first permanent teeth emerge through the gums as early as age 4 for some children.    Does this mean that we should expect damage to the adult teeth?    Luckily, children seem to avoid their adult teeth while grinding.   It is unknown why kids seem to grind their baby teeth and not the permanent teeth, while they are sleeping.

Why do kids grind their baby teeth?

The current theory is that children’s mouths are growing so fast between 2-10 years of age that this growth creates high spots all over their teeth.   If you have ever had a filling that had to be polished down on your own tooth, you know first-hand that we can ‘feel’ high spots in our teeth even in very minute amounts.    Children, as the theory goes, respond to these high spots by grinding at nighttime. 

The tooth grinding is SO loud, what can I do?

Children can grind their baby teeth so loudly because they can create twice as much force while sleeping than they can when they are awake.   For adults and teenagers who grind on their teeth, we offer mouth guards to wear that decrease the force and the sound.  Unfortunately, these are not an option for preschoolers or older children because of nighttime choking hazard.   The best thing to do is to come in to the office for routine checkups to make sure there is no severe damage to the teeth. Rest assured that this is a common and even natural process for children.    Maybe bring earplugs on the next camping trip?