Is Your Toddler Grinding Teeth? Here's When Parents Should Be Concerned
Parents might be concerned about how teeth grinding can impact baby teeth. Although it's normal to notice your little one grinding teeth, it is important for parents to understand when there is cause for concern.
Are you waking up to the odd sound of tooth grinding from your baby or toddler? There are many reasons why kids grind their teeth, and it can be very frustrating for parents to listen to!
Tooth grinding sounds like a scraping, popping, or squeaking noise that occurs when babies grind their teeth together. This can happen throughout the day, while they're eating, or in their sleep. If you're suddenly noticing your little one's tooth grinding, here are a few reasons why.
Why do babies grind their teeth?
Whether you notice your 9-month-old grinding their teeth as they take a nap, or notice your 11-month-old grinding teeth while awake, teeth grinding is a very common issue in young children. Up to 20-30% of children grind their teeth or clench their jaws at night.
Teeth grinding might be due to stress, getting a new tooth, or clenching the jaw. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a medical condition that can cause long-term problems for some children. It is important for babies to see a dentist as soon as they start getting teeth.
What is tooth grinding?
A lot of babies and toddlers grind their teeth from time to time, especially when they are teething. The sound of a baby grinding teeth can be cringe-worthy, but pediatric dentists say that up to 17% of young kids grind their teeth - meaning it's more common for baby grinding teeth, than parents might think!
You might notice your toddler grinding their teeth during the day or while they are sleeping (sleep bruxism).
Why does teeth grinding occur?
Teething grinding can occur fairly early on in a child's life.
Some babies begin grinding their teeth as soon as they have enough teeth to do so, and some don't begin tooth grinding until their school years or teenage years. Parents can take their child to a pediatric dentist to try to find the culprit for the tooth grinding, and there are many reasons why a child would grind their teeth.
When your baby gets new teeth, this can cause tooth grinding. Your baby's teeth might feel strange in their might, and tooth grinding is their natural way of exploring new sensations.
Older babies and toddlers might grind their teeth while zoning out and relaxing, not even noticing that they are doing so. For instance, you might notice your baby grinding their teeth as they watch television or listen to music in the car.
When can teeth grinding become a problem?
Parents might worry about trying to prevent teeth grinding out of fear that their child will have misaligned teeth, chipped teeth, or damage their permanent teeth. However, parents can rest assured that most kids outgrow bruxism (tooth grinding) as they get older.
Even if you hear your baby grinding their teeth, it doesn't mean this will become a permanent habit. Tooth grinding can be concerning to a dentist when it chips teeth, wears down the teeth, causes jaw pain, or hurts the nerves.
It is important for parents to take their child to the dentist as soon as they get their first tooth, or around their first birthday. Children grind their teeth for many reasons, and a dentist would be able to help parents prevent their child's teeth grinding from causing permanent problems.
When parents should be concerned about their baby's teeth
Teeth grinding treatment for young children
Bruxism (tooth grinding) treatment might include correcting alignment of a misaligned tooth, removing teeth, and custom teeth protection (such as mouth guards) for the child. A dentist will monitor a child's oral health from the first dental exam through adolescence to make sure any possible damage can be prevented.
What parents can do:
Parents can protect their child's baby teeth by giving their baby a soothing toy to help ease gum pain. Teething toys can soothe pain and protect your child's teeth, and these toys come in a variety of materials including rubber, wood, and soothing gel designs. Even something as simple as a cold, damp. washcloth can help avoid teeth grinding.
Luckily, most tooth grinding linked to teething will stop as soon as the new teeth come through the gums. Your little one will get lots of upper and lower teeth during infancy and toddlerhood, and parents can help ease the pain through natural remedies and special toys designed for teething babies.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.