I hadn’t really experienced teeth grinding until I got pregnant myself. The stress and anxiety of having my second child while my first was going through a terrible toddler phase had me clenching and grinding my teeth in my sleep. It had grown so bad I even got a sleep mouth guard to help with the jaw pain I was experiencing. Well fast-forward a few months and lil’ miss had gotten her first four teeth and was constantly grinding away. Naturally, I researched the crap out of baby teeth grinding and now I am here to share my google degree with you 😉
Teeth grinding (aka bruxism) is almost always a short stage babies go through. They are exploring the sensations and movement of their mouth. Honestly, my daughter breezed past it so fast the amount of freaking out I did about her breaking her brand new teeth was completely wasted energy.
Although short-lived most of the time, it is still important to identify and monitor (in case it isn’t short-lived or becomes a long term problem for your child). It is pretty easy to identity a baby who has begun grinding their teeth. First, there is a god awful sound. It is right up there with nails on a chalkboard. It’s kind of like if you were to rub rocks together but more irksome. Next, look for your baby making a movement similar to someone pretending to play the harmonica. A lot of jaw movement and silly looks. Grinding can also cause jaw pain, headaches or wearing on the teeth. Those symptoms are hard to identify in babies and usually come after extended amounts of time grinding so hopefully no one will experience those.
As far as why goes, like I said above, for babies it is mostly exploration of the mouth. However, grinding in general is very closely related to stress, so if teething (new teeth, pain, etc.) does not seem to be the cause then consider stress as the cause. There are a lot of things that can stress a baby out so if you suspect that is the issue I would consult a doctor!
Remedies and Solutions
The best solution here is distraction or redirection. Grab a toy, hand them a washcloth, give them some food, whip out the boob, really anything that will occupy their mouth and does not involve grinding their teeth together. Now if your child is as strong willed as mine she will likely just grind her teeth on the teething toy you give her, or your nipple, but that is still better than teeth on teeth. Nuby are my go to products for teething relief and they offer toys of varying textures so you should be able to find something from them that offers the texture your child desires and keeps them distracted. Find out more about Nuby here.
The grinding can also be just a response to the pain. Still exploring the use of their mouths, babies can find interesting ways to receive pain. There are TONS of natural ways to help receive teething pain and therefore help prevent your little one from turning to grinding for relief. Check out my favorite ideas here!
Lastly, a great way to help with both teething pain and the issue of stress is by helping to calm baby down. I HIGHLY recommend trying essential oils if you haven’t for your little one. Use caution and never apply essential oils directly to baby. For more info on that click here.
As always, trust your mom instincts. If you ever feel like your child’s grinding has gotten out of control, too intense or constant or gone on for too long call your pediatrician. Not to be the barer of bad news, but grinding can have some pretty serious repercussions. While completely not common, grinding can cause damage to baby teeth and even adult teeth. It can also cause damage to the jaw joint, ear issues and headaches.
Hopefully your child will grow out of this just as quickly as mine did but if not and you find yourself with more questions drop a comment below! I am always willing to help readers with any problems related to grinding, teething or babies in general!