We’ve all heard the harm that kids sleeping with a baby bottle or sippy cup can do, and we know the dangers that thumb-sucking can pose for kids’ dental health, but one thing you never think about is baby teeth grinding…until you hear it for the first time!
Should you Worry about Your Baby Damaging Their Teeth?
For the most part, parents don’t mind what their kids are doing when they sleep, so long as they’re sleeping -- but is teeth grinding (or “bruxism”) bad for them? Since babies lead a relatively carefree existence, we assume this sometimes stress-related habit is uncommon for kids, but in fact more than 30% of kids do grind their teeth at night. So, while teeth grinding is real, is it more or less dangerous than the boogey man under the bed?
The Causes of Bruxism in Children
While experts aren’t sure what causes babies to grind their teeth at night, the majority believes it to be an attempt to soothe sore gums during teething. Another theory holds that kids are simply testing out their new chompers, which usually come in between 8 and 12 months -- to get a feel for having teeth at all. Other common theories include babies grinding their teeth to soothe the pain of an earache or the discomfort of an allergy. One thing everyone agrees on is that such intermittent grinding at this age is harmless and won’t cause any damage.
In older children, bruxism can be a sign of worry or anxiety, and when teeth grinding is a more long-term habit, it can be harmful causing problems such as tooth damage, headaches or even TMJ, (temporomandibular joint disease).
Usually teeth grinding will naturally cease as your baby gets used to having their teeth, but if it continues, be sure to alert your dentist so that they can help your child prevent excessive long-term wear and damage. In the meantime, providing a cool teething ring (and earplugs for the parents) can help make your baby – and you -- more comfortable.