Why do Toddlers Grind Their Teeth? Reasons and Preventions

As a parent, you must have noticed your toddler moving their mouth while sleeping. It produces the sound of grinding or clacking as their teeth rub together. 

All these signs lead to the fact that your little one might be grinding their teeth. In medical terminology, this condition is called bruxism. 

The University of Michigan Health System has found that kids are likely to grind their teeth as soon as they turn 6 or later when they are teething. They can even tend to grin their teeth with the arrival of permanent teeth. 

Sure, many adults grind their teeth. But they are likely to do this when they are anxious or nervous. 

While grinding the teeth can be totally normal for toddlers, there are some instances when you need to opt for medical help to protect the teeth of your kids. 

Why do Little Ones Grind Their Teeth?

According to one survey by the Nemours Foundation, 20-30 percent of toddlers clench or grind their teeth, especially when they are sleeping. But sometimes you can notice it when they are awake during the daytime. 

Dentists have cited many reasons for teeth grinding in a toddler, including…

  • Inappropriate alignment of teeth
  • Using teeth grinding as a way to relieve pain from an aching ear or teething
  • Symptom of certain medical conditions such as medications or cerebral palsy. 

In adults, teeth grinding can be a symptom of anxiety or stress.

However, your doctor might not determine the exact cause all the time. 

Understanding the Severity Associated with Teeth Grinding

Experiencing tooth severity is not the same for all kids.

Some toddlers will go through minor incidents, with only a few occurrences of teeth grinding all night, while others will have severe episodes of teeth grinding that might include hundreds of occurrences while they are sleeping.  

The severity of the tooth grinding will determine the occurrence of the episodes. And the more episodes will risk the teeth–even lead to dental damage. 

What are the Signs of Teeth Grinding in Your Kids

Generally, you can find out if your little one is grinding their teeth only by observing them do it by hearing it.

A kid might not be aware that they are grinding their teeth. 

Some toddlers do this in the daytime when they are awake. 

How Does Teeth Grinding Impact the Health of Your Kids?

Generally, teeth grinding is a normal “tendency” that shouldn’t pose any threat to your kid’s health.

This is because tooth grinding starts in kids as they turn six and is likely to disappear as they older. And it won’t lead to any damage as their adult teeth don’t grow yet.  

But make sure to contact your doctor or dentist if there is any breakdown in your toddler’s teeth. 

If the kid is above six and still tends to grind their teeth, consult your doctor or dentist. 

Affecting the Behavior:

According to a 2008 report by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teeth grinding in kids can lead to problems with adjustment in pre-school. The parents have admitted that the teeth grinding activity has impacted their kids’ ability to adjust to preschool as well as engagement with their peers.  

Affecting Your Toddlers’ Sleep:

Kids who excessively grind their teeth can have poor sleep. 

When to See a Doctor?

While teeth grinding is totally a normal thing, there are some instances when you need to see a doctor, such as:

  • Hearing them grinding their teeth most times of the day or week.
  • Noticing wear and tear such as chipped enamel or cracks (to be found by the dentist)
  • Misalignment (to be found by the dentist)

Understanding the Treatments for Teeth Grinding

In older kids, teeth grinding that lead to discomfort, pain, or tooth misalignment is often treated with thin, flexible plastic pieces also known as a night guard.

They are applied over the upper gums so that the grinding cannot hit the teeth.

But toddler’s teeth experience a huge change over time, which impact the fitting of the guard’s over teeth as well. Top of that, toddlers might not have an idea why they are wearing this kind of “plastic piece”. 

There is NO official treatment for teeth grinding in toddlers. If you figure out that teeth grinding is caused by anxiety or stress. But make sure to visit your dentist. 

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