Teeth Grinding: Is that normal?

A young boy after losing two baby teeth, exfol...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the first post in the new series, “Should I be worried?” – your go-to-place for a quick reference about a variety of common infant and toddler behaviours and ailments.

As many as a third of young children will grind and click their teeth. The habit can emerge as young as 8 months, around the time the front teeth come in. The sound of your child grinding her teeth will most likely set your own on edge. It’s surprisingly loud, disconcertingly abrasive, and can have you asking, “Is this normal?”

Should I be worried about my baby or toddler’s teeth grinding?

No, there’s no need to worry. Not only is this a common practise in young children, it’s also a harmless one. Teething grinding, or Bruxism as it’s technically called, will not ruin your baby’s teeth. 

Though some slight wearing of the teeth can occur, it won’t be enough to seriously damage them, and certainly not enough to cause pain. Baby teeth have fewer developed nerves and less fully developed roots, and so are not as sensitive as adult teeth. Your baby can probably only feel a rubbing sensation from the action. 

Why do children grind their teeth?

There are several reasons your child may be grinding her teeth. The habit usually begins with teething, so it may be that the rubbing helps alleviate pain and discomfort. The sound and sensation can also be soothing to your child. Similar to head banging or rocking, children find a rhythmic motion, feeling, or sound comforting when they are anxious or tired; self soothing is valuable skill and not a sign your child is unhappy.

Most likely, however, the grinding is a natural and healthy learning process that goes hand in hand with new teeth. Your child is exploring her mouth and teeth and discovering what they do, how they feel, and what noises they can make. Even though the sound is horrible to you, it is interesting to your child.

Should I do anything about it?

This, too, shall pass. Your child will likely grow bored of grinding her teeth during the day and grow out of grinding them at night. The habit is best ignored or discouraged with distraction.

If your child is still grinding her teeth regularly after all her baby teeth have come in, this may be the time to see a dentist and check for excessive wear. Even then, it is unlikely that your child’s grinding is a problem and probable that she will grow out of the behaviour by the time she is about 6 years old.

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Does your child grind their teeth?

What have you done about it?

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1 Comment

Filed under Babycare Advice, General, Should I be Worried?

One response to “Teeth Grinding: Is that normal?

  1. Where bruxism it’s persistent it can be a sign and symptom of sleep apnea.
    If your child is grinding constantly, particularly if they seem to be poor sleepers, you may want to consider having a doctor investigate for airway obstruction and possible sleep disordered breathing.

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