Baby Grinding Teeth

image001Shortly after their teeth come out, some babies grind their teeth against each other. This is a very common reaction seen approximately in one out of every three babies usually at the age of around ten months. This grinding is referred to in the medical terminology as bruxism.

When Is Baby Grinding Teeth?

If your baby has suddenly taken up the habit of grinding his or her teeth, do not panic. It is nothing to worry about. About one-third of the babies grind their teeth at some point in their early life. Usually this is seen around 8 to 12 months of age when they are cutting their front teeth.

However, it can also be a learning process. According to Dr. Jeffrey Janoff, a pediatric dentist in Venice, FL, grinding can help a baby explore what their new teeth sound and feel like because for them having teeth is a new feeling.

Usually babies outgrow this habit, but until they do so, you can give them a cold teething ring to chew on. You can have a pediatric dentist take a look at your baby’s teeth if he or she is still grinding them after all their teeth come in so that they can check them for excessive wear.

Why Do Babies Grind Their Teeth?

There is no sure cause of bruxism known. It is thought that some children grind their teeth in response to pain of teething or earache. Just like we rub a sore muscle to ease its pain, children grind their teeth to ease sore gums. Others might do it because their top and bottom teeth are not properly aligned.

Another cause of grinding teeth in children is stress in the form of anger or nervousness. Any change in the routine, a fight with the siblings, arguments with parents, new school or worry about a school test--all forms of stress can prompt a child to grind his teeth.

Some hyperactive children also experience bruxism. Children who are taking certain medications or who are suffering from some medical disorder (for example cerebral palsy) can also develop bruxism.

What Can I Do to Stop Baby Grinding Teeth?

1. Relax Before Bedtime

Helping your child relax before bedtime can control both physical and psychological types of bruxism. Taking a shower or a warm bath, reading a book or listening to music can all help the child relax before bedtime.

If your child is grinding his teeth because of some stress in his life, then talk to your child about it and reassure him. For example, if he is stressed about going on a camping trip and being away from home, then he just needs assurance that you will be around if he needs you.

For more complicated problems that might be stressing your child, talk them out and try to ease her/his fears. If needed, you can even talk to your doctor.

Sometimes, these measures are not enough to manage bruxism. In these cases, your child may need further evaluation as advised by your doctor or dentist. You can then start with appropriate treatment accordingly.

2. Specific Tips

Here are some tips that can help a child with bruxism:

  • Try relaxing the muscles through some exercise or massage therapy.
  • Sometimes, when children are dehydrated, they grind their teeth. To prevent this, give your child plenty of water.
  • A dentist should monitor the teeth of a child with bruxism.
  • Pre-school children do not usually need additional measures to manage bruxism. However, older children might need night guards or temporary crowns to prevent bruxism.

If you want to get more information about how you can help babies stop grinding teeth, you can watch the video below:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Baby Grinding Teeth Bad?

Usually grinding teeth is no big problem. A child is not doing much damage to his teeth while grinding and many babies soon outgrow this habit.

However, you can always ask the dentist to check his teeth for wear and other results of grinding teeth such as cavities, fractures or pulp exposure. Periodic evaluation of the baby’s teeth by the dentist is important.

You should take your baby to the dentist for the first visit by the time he is around one year old.

2. How Long Do Baby Grinding Teeth Last?

By adolescence, most children have lost their childhood bruxism habit. Children outgrow this habit when they lose their baby teeth. However, some children can persist their grinding habit even into adolescence.

Bruxism that is caused by stress will not go away until the underlying cause of stress is dealt with. Hence, to deal with this kind of bruxism, you must talk about what is stressing your child.

3. How Can I Prevent Baby from Grinding Teeth?

Baby grinding teeth is a natural reaction. It is the child’s response to growth and development; therefore, most cases of bruxism cannot be prevented.

The other cause of bruxism, that is, stress, however, can be dealt with. If you think that your child is grinding teeth because he is stressed, then talk out the issues with him/her. Reassure him/her and help him/her deal with his/her stress. Sit with your child and talk about his/her feelings and opinions. Ask the help of a doctor if you have to.

Regular visits to the dentist can also help in the evaluation of teeth, damaged by grinding. The dentist can help treat bruxism if needed.