As babies adjust to the teething process, they may begin to grind their teeth, either while awake or during their sleep. Teeth grinding — formally known as bruxism — is a fairly common issue. According to medical experts, 20 to 30 percent of children grind their teeth or clench their jaw, often during sleep or as a reaction to stress.
As a parent, you may be concerned if you notice your baby has made a habit of grinding their teeth. While it’s not an emergency phenomenon and most children grow out of it naturally, you’ll want to handle their bruxism early to prevent tooth damage and decay.
Why Does Bruxism Occur?
Bruxism can be caused by a number of different factors. As teeth first start to erupt, the bite is relatively unstable, or “slippery,” as there are not enough teeth to make contact with each other. Your child also might be uncomfortable because of misaligned teeth, or subconsciously reacting to stress or other pain, such as an earache or headache. If your baby is still teething, they may be subconsciously easing their pain by grinding their teeth together.
When it comes to babies who are too young to communicate their discomfort, it can be difficult for parents to realize their child is in pain, particularly if the grinding happens while they’re asleep. Instead, you’ll probably be able to hear the telltale sounds of their teeth rubbing together.
Don’t panic — this is normal! Nothing is wrong with your baby, and in many cases, the condition will go away on its own. However, there are a few different methods to ease or prevent tooth grinding, which we’ll explore below.
How to Treat and Prevent Tooth Grinding
You’ll be happy to hear that bruxism is not a major cause for concern. While it’s best to catch it and intervene early to prevent potential tooth damage, the condition is not a significant health risk to your baby. In most cases, formal treatment isn’t necessary. But there are still plenty of ways you can help soothe your baby’s tooth grinding and ease them into smoother sleep!
You could try offering your baby a teething toy to chew on, which might help ease their gums. From rubber and soft wood to soothing ice teethers, there are many options available. Or, do a little homemade DIY magic with a cool, damp washcloth for your baby to chew on.
If you’re concerned, speak to your pediatric dentist about your baby’s bruxism. They can offer personalized advice and check to make sure there’s been no harm done to your baby’s teeth or jaw.
Baby tooth grinding is self-limiting, meaning it will go away on its own. Because babies are young and constantly growing, there is no need to do any night guards, as many adults do. While tooth grinding is definitely hard to listen to, you can rest assured that it a common condition for growing babies, and will lessen as your child grows in more teeth.
Contact Fox Kids Dentistry for a Pediatric Consultation
If you have any concerns about your baby’s bruxism or other child dentistry questions, Fox Kids Dentistry is just a phone call away. Give us a call at (503) 223 -5039.
We specialize in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics in the Portland area, and we bring a dedicated blend of expertise and care to each family we serve. Schedule a pediatric consultation today to begin — no referrals needed!