Baby Grinding Teeth

Ugh! Listening to your 2-year-old scraping her upper and lower teeth together can be even more disturbing than hearing fingernails scratch across a chalkboard. 

Contrary to the old wives’ tale, tooth grinding is not a sign of intestinal worms. It is just another one of the weird problems that can occur during deep NREM sleep. 

What Causes Baby Teeth Grinding

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, can start as early as the first birthday and cause sleep disruption, tooth wear (even fractures), and jaw pain. It can be provoked by consuming caffeine-containing food and drinks (chocolate, tea, cola, etc.) or by pain from an ear infection or teething). Another cause is when your child's teeth are not lined up right, known as malocclusion. 

Other Causes of Teeth Grinding in Infants

If you or your partner grind your teeth, it is more likely your child will, too. And it is especially common among kids with obvious neurological disorders, like cerebral palsy.

Do not fret...tooth grinding does not mean that your baby is having a nightmare. However, stress and anxiety can cause tooth grinding in babies to increase.

Most tooth grinding happens during sleep, but babies grinding their teeth while awake is also quite common! 

How to Stop Baby From Grinding Teeth

Most kids outgrow tooth grinding by the teen years. In the meantime, stress-reducing bedtime routines can reduce the problem. Use white noise, loveys, storybooks, lullabies, lavender, and bedtime sweet talk to help your child drift off easily. A dummy is fine at this stage, too. 

[Read more: How to Get Baby to Take a Dummy]

Does Tooth Grinding Damage a Baby’s Teeth? 

Because most tooth grinding stops before kids lose all of their baby teeth, it is unlikely to damage the teeth. However, if you are worried, talk to your child's dentist and mention it to your healthcare provider. Sometimes dentists prescribe mouth guards to protect kids' teeth. If the tooth grinding is a result of teething or an ear infection, your healthcare provider may recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen thirty minutes before bed (it takes a little time to work).

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