In the first year of their lives, babies have a lot going on. Amongst all of these, the most noteworthy development that babies go through is teething. And during this time, a baby grinding teeth is by far one of the most common things for parents to witness.  

With the emergence of every tooth, your baby goes through newer sensations and discomforts. Hence, having a teeth grinder at this age is nothing new. In most cases, however, the action of grinding teeth is nothing more than just mere exploring. But, if this goes on for too long, your little one might get bruxism, a condition that makes teeth grinding a regular habit.  

For new parents particularly, figuring these newly formed habits of their little ones might not be the easiest thing. With too much already on your plate, getting to know about all of these might be a bit too overwhelming. But not when you have the right information and support.  

In this article, we shall discuss the exact reasons behind your baby grinding teeth and see what all you can do to help them go through this situation.  

When Does “Baby Grinding Teeth” Start?  

When Does “Baby Grinding Teeth” Start

To begin with, baby grinding teeth might start during their sleep as soon as the first year of their life, once their very first baby tooth emerges. However, in most cases, the grinding actually starts when babies have a stable bite, which is around the age of 2 or 3. However, teeth grinding reduces on its own around the age of 6. But, in rare cases, some children still continue to grind their teeth even through adolescence.  

When we talk about grinding, there are mainly two types of it. Grinding, which is medically known as bruxism, can be divided into two categories – awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. Around 49% of kids go through sleep bruxism, while it is much less common for them to grind their teeth during the day. However, it still happens. 

Baby Grinding Teeth: Why Do They Do It?  

Baby Grinding Teeth_ Why Do They Do It

While we do know that babies have the habit of grinding their teeth, the exact reason behind it is still unknown. However, it can be said the cause is multifactorial. This means there are many conflicting factors that contribute to your baby going through this situation.  

According to experts, some of the most common reasons behind baby grinding teeth are listed below:  

Ear, Nose, Or Throat Illness  

As per studies, any ear, nose, or throat illness, or even mouth breathing, could be one of the reasons behind your baby’s teeth grinding. Another study also concluded the correlation between respiratory problems and bruxism in kids. However these are just conflicting evidence regarding a baby’s teeth grinding habit and its connection with an illness. The evidence only suggests that there might be some relation between teeth grinding and the baby being ill, but those are not well understood and calls for more research.  

Unaligned Teeth 

A baby grinding teeth might sometimes happen due to improper or unaligned teeth. Thumb sucking or pacifiers are two of the most common reasons as to why your little one might have developed unaligned teeth in the first place. As per research, both of these reasons are largely associated with a baby grinding its teeth.  

PAIN  

While teething is a symptom of growth, it does come at a price – pain. Babies tend to go through a lot of pain at the time of teething. This might be one of the reasons why your baby keeps grinding its teeth. They might be doing it to help with the pain and ease the discomfort they are going through.  

Sleep Disordered Breathing  

According to experts, sleep disordered breathing could be yet another possible reason behind a baby grinding teeth. Stuck airways during sleep might signal the baby’s jaw to slide a little forward to promote airflow. Sleep disordered breathing might also result in sleep apnea, affecting around 25 percent of young kids.  

Anxiety, Stress, And Hyperactivity  

You may not realize it, but stress and anxiety could be major reasons why your baby is grinding its teeth. A study from 2015 claims and backs this report, claiming that kids with bruxism have extreme levels of anxiety in comparison to kids without it. Certain hyperactivity issues like ADHD might also be the reason behind your baby grinding its teeth.  

Family History 

In some cases, bruxism might be hereditary, too. Kids are more prone to grinding their teeth if their biological mothers do that, too.  

In other cases, issues like gastroesophageal reflux and socioeconomic status might also play a role in babies grinding their teeth. Plus, other studies have found sleep bruxism is pretty common in kids that have a high screen time, too much sugar consumption, and exposure to passive smoke. While all of these could be the possible reasons behind a baby grinding its teeth, more research is needed to rightly back these claims.  

What Are The Symptoms Of Baby Grinding Teeth?  

What Are The Symptoms Of Baby Grinding Teeth

Almost all babies tend to grind their teeth. However, if it has escalated to something more serious like bruxism, it can only be determined upon seeing the symptoms. The very first symptom that you will see is too much grinding when your baby is taking a nap, particularly at night. You might also see very subtle jaw clenching or grinding during the day, even when they are awake. It is quite difficult to be certain of this.  

However, some of the most common symptoms that you may have to look for include the following:  

  • Loud grinding or clicking noise, particularly during the night or when your baby is sleeping. 
  • Rhythmic tightening of the jaw or clenching motions.  
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot foods causes your baby to end up crying at times.  
  • Injuries in their teeth.  
  • Swelling of the gum.  

Natural Remedies For Baby Grinding Teeth  

Natural Remedies For Baby Grinding Teeth

Bruxism is not always associated with teething, but both of them may go hand in hand during the first year of the baby. So, if you see your baby grinding teeth way more than it should, you should try giving them a teething toy to chew on. There is a wide variety of teething toys that you can try out to see which one works best for your little one.  

Natural rubber tethers are very soft and offer the utmost comfort. They do not have bisphenol A or phthalates in them.  

Ice tethers have a very small amount of liquid in them that could hold the chill. The cool sensation helps ease any pain that your child might face from the teeth poking their gums.  

Wooden tethers are also soft and chemical free. They are also naturally antimicrobial.  

Silicone teething necklaces are also great options for when you are out somewhere. It allows your baby to do some hand free chewing whenever they feel like it.  

Other Options… 

When it comes to tethers, you may also go ahead with some homemade tethers, which are just as effective and useful. You can just take a clean washcloth, wet it, and fold it into quarters. Then, freeze it for a couple of hours and let your baby hold the dry quarters. The firmness and cold feeling might give them some degree of relief.  

Some parents even use amber teething necklaces to help their little ones with teething symptoms. However, confusion still exists about whether these are actually worth it. It is, however, preferable if you just have a talk with your kid’s doctor before you end up using one for them. Strangulation is a serious risk when your child has something hanging around their neck. To ensure safety, it is best to remove the necklace before their bedtime.  

Bruxism, as you already know, happens because of stress, too. If you are suspecting that the child’s teeth grinding is connected to stress or anxiety, it is better to address the issues directly. A calm and comfortable routine might help reduce their nighttime grinding.  

If your baby keeps grinding their teeth throughout their childhood or grows pain or has other complications, it is better to check in with a dentist. Special mouthguards are available that can be custom made to prevent any permanent damage to your child’s teeth.  

How To Stop A Baby From Grinding Its Teeth?  

Kids can outgrow bruxism on their own, so you do not need to do anything specifically to reduce their habit of teeth grinding. But, once you ensure that there is something more serious to it, it is necessary that you stop your baby from constantly grinding their teeth. However, it is easier said than done. 

To make a baby quit on its habits is not the easiest job on the planet. However, there are a few tricks and tactics that can make the job rather simpler for you. Some of those tactics may include:  

Managing The Baby’s Pain Levels  

Teething is a painful process. As babies cannot speak, teeth grinding could be one way to ask for help. If you constantly see your baby grinding teeth, it might be time to do something to ease their pain. Sore gum, broken tooth, etc., can all be reasons why your child is going through unbearable pain.  

Managing Their Stress Levels  

You may not know it, but babies experience stress, too. It might happen due to multiple reasons, but keeping them in a calm and comfortable environment could help them feel more calm and be comfortable while sleeping.  

Developing Good Sleep Habits  

The earlier you start with healthy sleep habits with your child, the easier it becomes for them to get a healthy start. Babies that have bad sleep quality tend to develop a habit of teeth grinding.  

Promoting Healthy Oral Habits  

There is a direct relationship between sleep bruxism and oral habits. These may include biting nails, lips, and the inside of the cheeks. Sometimes it might also happen due to the long term use of pacifiers or thumb sucking. Helping your baby quit these habits also reduces the chances of sleep bruxism.  

Having Your Baby Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet  

Make sure that the baby is eating a diet full of magnesium and calcium, which are highly necessary for healthy muscles and teeth. While it may not help reduce teeth grinding directly, it will help boost their overall well being.  

When Is The Right Time To See A Doctor?  

When Is The Right Time To See A Doctor

Teeth grinding usually stops before kids finally get their permanent set of teeth. Hence, there is no way that it will cause any long-lasting damage. However, it is still a better idea to reach out to the doctor in case of:  

  • Pain in their teeth or jaw  
  • Constant headaches  
  • A change in their bite or alignment of their teeth  
  • Difficulty in eating, opening their mouth, or speaking  
  • Too much crankiness or sleepiness during the day  
  • Pausing or snoring while breathing during sleep  
  • Behavioral issues or developmental delays  
  • Sensitivity to cold, hot, or sweet foods or drinks  
  • Cracked or chipped teeth  
  • Worn down tooth enamel  

What Teeth Do Babies Mostly Grind?  

What Teeth Do Babies Mostly Grind

Bruxism does not happen until the baby’s first tooth comes out. So, it might just happen to any of their teeth, depending on their unique bite. With that said, your babies usually grind their baby molars and the canines the most.  

This might happen because primary molars are stronger and bigger than primary incisors and are able to withstand the pressure of grinding.  

Also, in addition, primary molars are usually the teeth that erupt or shed during the toddler years, which might contribute to the tendency to grind them.  

The Bottom Line  

The mental image and the sound of your baby grinding teeth might not be very relaxing to you. But, remember, it is just a temporary condition and will go away as soon as possible. 

But, if you are still concerned about your baby’s teeth, it is better to take them to a dentist. Teeth grinding only happens after your baby gets their first tooth. Also, grinding only happens with your baby’s primary teeth, so you need not worry about any long lasting damage to their teeth.

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