There he goes again, grinding his teeth and sending you crawling up the wall. It's like nails on a chalkboard to your ears, but your baby seems as happy as can be with his newfound hobby. Despite his nonplussed demeanor, should you be concerned about a deeper problem? Why do babies grind their teeth, and how much should parents worry about it?
It turns out, teeth grinding is a usually a perfectly normal thing for an infant to do. According to Sam Williamson at Precious Little One, the teething process is a huge transformation in the life of a baby and he "has every right to be curious about these strange sharp things growing out of his gums." In an interview with Romper, Williamson says that grinding is simply a way for a little one to explore his new teeth. Since curiosity is the culprit, there's likely no reason to worry unless it continues after his teeth have all come in.
Dental Hygenist Anastasia Turchetta offers a few more possibilities for parents who suspect their baby's teeth grinding is unrelated to the painful sensations of teething. Turchetta explains to Romper that it could potentially be anything from an earache, medication side effects, or malocclusion (when the teeth are not aligning correctly). Interestingly, Turchetta notes, it may even be caused by observing bruxism (teeth grinding) by the mother.
That's right, there's one more thing that could actually be your fault. Sleep well tonight.
Another possibility that Turchetta points out is your baby may feel stressed. I know, I know, how stressful can the life of an infant actually be? But things like major changes in their routine or weaning from breastfeeding can take a more significant toll on our little ones than parents may realize.
If you have ongoing concerns about your baby's teeth-grinding habits, talk to your pediatrician about your observations, as there may be atypical problems going on. But for most babies, grinding their teeth will likely be something they grow out of in time. The best thing you can do may be to invest in some chewable toys and easy snacks to save your ears and sanity while you wait.