Why does my child grind his teeth?

Your toddler is sleeping. You want to see his peaceful breathing and imagine only sweet dreams, but all you hear is the gnashing and grinding of teeth.

Bruxism (grinding of teeth) is a medical condition when you grind your teeth in the daytime or at night. It is more often found at night time during your sleep. Teeth grinding is not uncommon. 38% of all children grind their teeth. It begins around 6 months of age and normally stops around 6 years of age.

What causes teeth grinding?

Your child is just getting used to the sensation of having teeth. The grinding normally starts around 6 to 8 months of age, when the first milk teeth appears. Your baby can’t tell you what is wrong and also starts grinding when they have earache or are teething. Malocclusion (that is when your teeth don’t line up) can also cause bruxism. Breathing problems and allergies can also contribute to grinding.

Is grinding bad for your teeth?

It normally sounds worse than it is. Grinding can cause tooth wear, which can lead to cavities and nerve exposure. It can even cause tooth fractures.

If older children (8 years and older) keep on grinding their teeth, it is better to take them to the dentist. Grinding can damage their permanent teeth, lead to Tempero-mandibular joint disorders and facial pains, including headaches.

What can you do to help?

  • Firstly, you can offer a teething toy, like ice teethers, teething necklaces etc.

  • Have a calming bedtime routine.

  • A special night guard can be made by your dentist in severe cases. This is only necessary if permanent teeth are already present.

Teeth grinding can be disturbing but in small children it is mostly a temporary condition. If you are worried about your child then take him to a child friendly dentist. Your child’s first dental visit must be with his first birthday.

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