Babies go through a lot of changes during the first year and a half, particularly. As their bodies change, often their behavior does as well to get used to the differences.
Usually some degree of a baby grinding his or her teeth is them simply exploring. Getting used to having teeth, if you will. Infants are sometimes fascinated by the sound their teeth make clenching or rubbing together, and will do it repeatedly for that reason.
Many parents are understandably worried about their infants grinding their teeth and whether it’s dangerous or likely to lead to damage. Questions about teeth grinding and mouth guards are common in our office, so we’d like to share some information here as a starting point.
If your baby continuously grinds their teeth, though, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent bruxism and jaw pain.
- Redirect your baby to gnaw on teethers, whether rubber or wooden. This will satisfy a teething baby’s desire to bite down on something and won’t put stress on the jaw the way clenching the teeth does.
- Consider teething necklaces made of silicone. These can be chilled and worn by your baby, and they can put the beads in their mouths and chew them. The cool temperature will soothe sore gums during teething, and again discourages grinding the teeth.
Other reasons infants might grind their teeth include:
Inner ear pain. Clenching the jaw can temporarily relieve ear pain, and sometimes this is a baby’s way of coping with an earache. It can be tough to ascertain since babies can’t tell us what hurts.
The initial phases of tooth development in babies and children involve periods of improper bite alignment that is normal. This is because of the variety of teeth growing in at different speeds, teeth falling out and being replaced by adult teeth, etc.
This temporarily uneven bite alignment can lead to teeth grinding as well.
Gum inflammation caused by not practicing oral hygiene habits often enough can also cause discomfort that leads to clenching and grinding the teeth.