Why does my child grind teeth at night?

Do you have a little one who tooth grinds or clenches their teeth? It is really quite common, and adults can teeth grind too! Worn down teeth involves lots more time and the dentist, and it can cause jaw stiffness and sleep disturbance. So, it is good to halt bruxism in its tracks where possible, and this means working out the root cause.

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One school of thought is that bruxism is a sign of inner tension and anxiety. It is also a way of seeking sensory feedback to calm the nervous system. It often occurs during the night when sleeping and may also be due to an abnormal bite or missing or wonky teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder called sleep apnoea, where breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

Because grinding often happens during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull headache or sore jaw when you wake up may be due to bruxism. Some parents can hear their kids griding their teeth from the next-door bedroom it is so loud.

There are also nutrition reasons why this might be happening, and I want to share these with you in case one of these rings a bell:

  • Lack of Vitamin D can be a factor, especially if your child tends to grind their teeth in the winter months or early spring when vitamin D levels are naturally at their lowest. You can find some vitamin D in eggs, organic whole milk, grass fed beef and oily fish as well as in specialist supplements.
  • Not enough calcium – this is quite common in kids these days, especially those who drink unfortified plant-based milks. Young children need between 350 and 52mg of calcium daily and teenagers need 800-1000mg daily.
  • A shortfall in magnesium – it’s hard to get enough magnesium into a small child’s diet (dark chocolate, spinach, avocado, nuts, purses, seeds etc) so in my experience this is the most common cause of teeth grinding & that magnesium supplements and magnesium baths rectify any shortfall quite quickly.
  • Threadworm or roundworm infection – odd but true in some cases – wiggly worms can excrete toxic proteins which lead to teeth grinding – if you have a pet at home or your child goes to nursery/school then do consider the presence of worms – especially if they get an itchy bottom!

I hope these tips help you get to the bottom of why your kids are tooth grinding.

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