Why Do Babies Grind Their Teeth?

Baby Grinding Teeth

Teeth grinding in babies is a common phenomenon that often raises questions among parents.

This behaviour, while disconcerting, is quite prevalent in infants, and understanding the basics of baby teeth grinding can help parents navigate this stage of their child’s development with confidence.

The age range and frequency of teeth grinding in babies typically occur during the stages of teething and oral development, which can vary among individual infants. Teeth grinding, or bruxism commonly starts around the time when a baby’s first teeth begin to emerge, usually between 6 months and 3 years of age. This period aligns with the natural progression of teething and oral exploration.

The frequency of teeth-grinding episodes can vary as well, with some babies experiencing occasional grinding, while others may exhibit more frequent occurrences. It’s important to note that these patterns are often transient and tend to decrease as the child grows older and becomes accustomed to the sensations associated with teething and oral development.

why do babies grind their teeth

Common Causes Of Baby Teeth Grinding

Teething, a significant milestone in a baby’s development, and is closely linked to teeth grinding.

The emergence of new teeth can be a source of discomfort or pain for infants, prompting them to grind their teeth as a way of alleviating the sensation. Parents must recognise the signs of teething and employ strategies to minimise the associated discomfort, ultimately reducing the frequency of grinding episodes.

The intricate process of jaw development plays a pivotal role in the occurrence of teeth grinding too.

As a baby’s jaw evolves, it can contribute to grinding behaviour. Moreover, the natural curiosity associated with oral exploration and the emergence of new teeth can intensify this phenomenon. Parents should be mindful of these developmental aspects and understand that teeth grinding is often a part of the broader journey of oral growth.

Contrary to common perception, stress or anxiety can also influence baby teeth grinding.

Infants, like adults, can experience stressors that manifest in various ways, including teeth grinding. Identifying potential triggers, such as changes in routine or environmental factors, is crucial. Equipping parents with strategies to create a calm and reassuring environment for their baby can go a long way in mitigating stress-related teeth grinding.

Signs That Teeth Grinding May Be A Concern

While occasional teeth grinding is a common occurrence in infants, parents need to be attentive to the duration and intensity of these episodes.

Persistent or intense grinding that significantly impacts a baby’s sleep or causes noticeable discomfort may indicate an underlying issue.

Understanding the nuances of duration and intensity enables parents to differentiate between typical behaviour and situations that warrant closer observation and, if necessary, professional advice.

Impact On Dental Health

1. Tooth Wear:

– Grinding can lead to the wearing down of the tooth’s enamel, the protective outer layer. Enamel erosion can result in increased tooth sensitivity, making teeth more prone to discomfort, especially when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages.

2. Fractured Teeth:

– The continuous force exerted during grinding may cause teeth to develop fractures or small cracks. These fractures can weaken the tooth structure and, in severe cases, lead to chipping or breakage.

3. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Issues:

– Bruxism can contribute to problems with the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull. Excessive grinding may strain the TMJ, leading to discomfort, jaw pain, and potential long-term issues with jaw function.

4. Changes in Tooth Alignment:

– Over time, persistent teeth grinding can result in changes to the alignment of the teeth. This may lead to bite irregularities and, in some cases, necessitate orthodontic intervention to correct alignment issues.

5. Increased Risk of Gum Recession:

– The pressure from grinding can affect not only the teeth but also the surrounding gum tissues. Over time, this can contribute to gum recession, where the gum line pulls away from the teeth, potentially exposing the tooth roots and leading to increased sensitivity.

6. Complications with Dental Work:

– Individuals with dental restorations, such as crowns or fillings, may experience complications due to grinding. The added stress on these restorations can lead to premature wear, damage, or even the need for replacement.

7. Disruption of Sleep Patterns:

– In cases where teeth grinding is severe, it can lead to disruptions in sleep patterns. This can contribute to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and overall compromised well-being.

why do babies grind their teeth

Teething Relief Measures

Here are practical tips to provide teething relief:

1. Safe Teething Toys:

– Introduce safe teething toys made from soft, BPA-free materials. These toys can provide a satisfying chewing experience and help soothe sore gums.

2. Cold Compresses:

Use cold compresses wrapped in a thin cloth to gently numb the gums. The cold sensation can alleviate teething discomfort and reduce the inclination to grind teeth.

3. Gentle Massage Techniques:

– Gently massage your baby’s gums with clean fingers. This not only offers comfort but also aids in the natural eruption of new teeth, potentially reducing the urge to grind.

These tips can all help to reduce grinding and teething pain, but stopping it before it starts is a good idea too.

Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can help stop a child grinding their teeth, so here are some tips in that regard:

1. Consistent Bedtime Rituals:

– Create a consistent routine before bedtime to signal to your baby that it’s time to wind down. This may include activities like a warm bath, reading a soothing story, or gentle lullabies.

2. Comfortable Sleep Environment:

– Ensure your baby’s sleep environment is conducive to relaxation. Dim the lights, maintain a comfortable room temperature, and use soft bedding to create a cosy and calming atmosphere.

3. Comfort Objects:

– Introduce a comfort object, such as a soft blanket or stuffed animal, to provide a sense of security. Having a familiar item can help your baby feel more at ease during sleep, potentially reducing teeth grinding.

4. Avoid Stimulating Activities Before Bed:

– Minimise stimulating activities, such as screen time or energetic play, close to bedtime. This helps your baby transition to a more relaxed state before sleep.

When To Consult A Doctor

Signs that warrant professional advice for baby teeth grinding include persistent or intense grinding that disrupts your baby’s sleep patterns or causes noticeable discomfort.

If you observe signs of sleep bruxism or notice any impact on your baby’s overall well-being, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

why do babies grind their teeth

Additionally, if there are concerns about the duration and intensity of grinding episodes or potential effects on dental health, consulting with a paediatrician or paediatric dentist can provide valuable insights and personalised recommendations for your baby’s specific situation.

Regular communication with healthcare professionals ensures proactive management of your baby’s teeth-grinding habit.