Why Does My Toddler Grind Her Teeth & How Can I Stop It?
Teeth grinding is a common problem that both adults and children experience. Sometimes called bruxism, grinding of the teeth is, generally, not at all harmful. It is not likely that teeth grinding will cause any permanent damage to the teeth, especially for a toddler. Teeth grinding almost always happens at night.
Around half of all toddlers will grind their teeth at some point. Many toddlers start grinding teeth at around the age of 3 or 3 1/2 years old. For some children, teeth grinding can begin as early as 10 months old. On the average, a toddler who grinds her teeth will stop grinding her teeth by the age of six. Research has not proven conclusively what exactly will cause a toddler to grind her teeth. Some studies suggest that teeth grinding can be caused by anxiety and tensions. Other experts suggest that the pain that accompanies teething, or even earache pain can cause a toddler to grind her teeth. Others believe that teeth grinding may be caused when there is a malocclusion – when some of the toddler’s teeth don’t line up correctly.
Teeth grinding is not anything to be too concerned about. The worst part about teeth grinding is the often irritating sound of listening to your toddler grind her teeth. Eventually, she will stop grinding her teeth on her own. If you are concerned, you should contact your health care provider or a pediatric dentist, who can look for any potential problems that might be caused by your toddler’s grinding teeth. The dentist can check to see if there is any damage to your toddler’s teeth, such as cavities or fractures of the teeth. For older children who grind their teeth, a dentist may fit them with what is called a “night guard.” A night guard is a plastic appliance that is especially formed to the child’s mouth. A night guard will prevent grinding of the teeth as well as clenching of the mouth. Typically, a night guard will not be recommended unless she has some of her permanent teeth already.