Do you get startled when you hear a gritting and screeching sound as horrible as fingernails scratching a blackboard? The first time you hear this noise in your kid’s bedroom makes you wonder what is going on in there and raises concern. It’s simply astounding that such a small person can make so much noise and not wake up. If you commonly find your little one doing this, then your child must be grinding his teeth while sleeping.
What is teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding, also called Bruxism refers to the grinding of teeth and clenching of jaws. It happens mostly in sleep and in some children suffering from stress. It is common in children under 11 and does not cause any immediate harm to your little one. However, when it causes severe tooth pain or your child faces trouble in sleeping, it is a cause of concern.
Common Reasons Why Baby Grinds Teeth While Sleeping
Grinding of teeth is common in children. However, there are physical, physiological, and psychological factors due to which babies grind their teeth in sleep.
1} Learning Process
Grinding of teeth may be a new learning process which makes them explore what their new teeth feels and sounds like. As a child, at a young age having teeth is a new feeling. Children outgrow this habit very soon and grinding of teeth disappears.
2} Response to growth and development
Baby grinding teeth may just be a natural phenomenon. Grinding can also be due to response to development and only time can help overcome it. Once the permanent teeth start erupting, children automatically stop grinding their teeth.
3} Stress and anxiety
Often, grinding of the teeth can be due to factors like stress and anxiety. Stress induces the excess production of adrenaline hormones. Children suffering from bruxism have high concentration of the adrenaline hormone in their urine. Children dealing with stress and anxiety often resort to bruxism or grinding of teeth.
4} Imperfect positioning of teeth
Improper alignment of upper and lower teeth when jaws remain closed can promote teeth grinding. Hence, when your baby is sleeping he loses control of his mouth and begins grinding his teeth.
5} Poor oral hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common causes of teeth grinding. Gum inflammation can cause grinding of teeth especially in children who do not brush their teeth regularly and maintain poor oral hygiene.
6} Anti-depressant medications
The number of children taking anti-depressant medications are on the rise in the modern times. Due to this, children suffer from many side effects one among them is bruxism. If you notice any signs of bruxism, it is advisable to consult your doctor and change to an alternative medication.
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7} Stomach acid reflux
This is the most ignored cause of bruxism or teeth grinding in children. Stomach acid reflux into the oesophagus is another major reason why children grind their teeth in sleep.
8} Developmental disorders
Children with developmental disorders and brain malfunctions like epilepsy and downs syndrome are at a high risk of developing bruxism. In such cases, children are recommended to take botulism injections or given night time mouth pieces to calm down facial muscles and reduce grinding.
9} Nutritional deficiencies
Nutritional deficiencies and dehydration is often linked to teeth grinding in children. Calcium and magnesium deficiencies are the most common causes of bruxism. Hence, it is important to make sure your child has a healthy diet and consume plenty of water.
10} Hyperactivity disorder
Medically there is an association between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bruxism. Hyperactivity is the common cause of teeth grinding in children.
Read More: Handling Sleep Disorders among 4yr olds
Prevention and treatment of teeth grinding
Some of the common symptoms of bruxism in children include jaw pain, teeth pain, ear pain, and headaches. Normally children outgrow this habit, hence they do not require any treatment. However if the signs continue for longer than usual or if there are underlying medical issues that cause teeth grinding, then it must be given immediate attention.
In most cases, there are no major causes to bruxism and this troublesome phase passes out soon. Pay attention to your little one’s growth and development to understand what he is going through. Understand the not-to-worry and alarming signs to ensure that your little one gets help when needed. Most importantly, support your child in this passing phase and not question your child about. Your little one is still exploring his new world, and there is lot left for him to feel and understand.