Baby Grinding Teeth

Ugh! Listening to your 2-year-old scraping her upper and lower teeth together can be even more disturbing than hearing fingernails scratch across a chalkboard.

Contrary to the old wives’ tale, tooth grinding isn’t a sign of intestinal worms. It’s just another one of the weird problems that can occur during deep NREM sleep.

What Causes Baby Teeth Grinding

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, can start as early as the first birthday and cause sleep disruption, tooth wear (even fractures), and jaw pain. It can be provoked by consuming caffeine-containing food and drinks (chocolate, iced tea, cola, etc.) or by pain from an ear infection or teething). Another cause is when your child's teeth aren't lined up right, known as malocclusion.

Other causes of teeth grinding in infants

If you or your partner grind your teeth, it's more likely your child will, too. And it’s especially common among kids with obvious neurological disorders, like cerebral palsy.

Don't fret...tooth grinding doesn't mean that your baby is having a nightmare. However, stress and anxiety can cause tooth grinding in babies to increase.

Most tooth grinding happens during sleep, but babies grinding their teeth while awake is also quite common!

How to Stop Baby From Grinding Teeth

Most kids outgrow tooth grinding by the teen years. In the meantime, stress-reducing bedtime routines can reduce the problem. Use white noise, loveys, storybooks, lullabies, lavender and bedtime sweet talk to help your child drift off easily. A pacifier is fine at this stage, too.

[Read more: How to Get Baby to Take a Pacifier]

Does Tooth Grinding Damage a Baby’s Teeth?

Because most tooth grinding stops before kids lose all of their baby teeth, it's unlikely to damage the teeth. However, if you're worried, talk to your child's dentist and mention it to their doctor. Sometimes dentists prescribe mouth guards to protect kids' teeth. If the tooth grinding is a result of teething or an ear infection, your doctor may recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen thirty minutes before bed (it takes a little time to work).

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.