Teeth grinding is a common behavior in autistic children. It is called bruxism and refers to teeth that make grinding or clicking sounds when they are clenched together.
Teeth grinding is not considered to be a sign of autism, but it can be a symptom. Teeth grinding may occur because an individual’s sensory system is over-reactive, making them more sensitive to certain sensations such as touch or sound. The increased sensitivity may cause an individual to clench his or her teeth as a way to block out these sensations. Teeth grinding can also be a result of stress or anxiety, which are common in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Some children with ASD may grind their teeth while sleeping and not even realize it, while others will grind their teeth when they are not asleep and become aware of the sound that they make. In some cases, parents have reported hearing their child’s tooth chattering or clicking while he or she was awake.
Last modified: August 2, 2022