Many stainless steel crowns (SSCs) disrupt the occlusion in children, but stabilisation appears to occur within a short period post-placement. The extent and mechanism of these short-term occlusal changes in children are unknown. This study sought to determine whether placement of a SSC changes the maximum intercuspation position (MIP) in children, whether the MIP returns to normal within 4 weeks and whether local anaesthesia had an effect on the child's ability to achieve MIP. The T-Scan® III was used for the measurement of occlusal contacts. Reliability and reproducibility of the system was determined using a calibration exercise where MIP recordings were taken of eleven children not undergoing any dental treatment. For the main study, the percentage of total occlusal force on each tooth was recorded in 20 children preoperatively, after local anaesthesia, after SSC placement and 4 weeks postoperatively. There was no significant difference in MIP (P = 0·435) preoperatively and post-administration of local anaesthesia. There was a significant difference between the preoperative force on a tooth and the reading after crown placement (P = 0·0013, Wilcoxon test). By 4 weeks, there was no significant difference overall between post-SSC placement and the preoperative value for the tooth (P = 0·3). Administration of local anaesthesia did not affect the ability of a child to attain MIP. Maximum intercuspation position was disturbed by the placement of a SSC in seven of 20 cases. When MIP was disturbed, in most cases, it returned to preoperative status within 4 weeks of crown placement.