My little son, who started teething about 3 months ago, just recently started grinding his teeth.
This threw me into panic mode, remembering how I learnt that it was just wrong for an infant to grind its teeth and hence the million ‘remedies’ grannies and parents used to stop them from grinding the small teeth!
Admittedly, grinding one’s teeth is irritating beyond description, especially when an adult does it!
It was for me more scary than irritating because, I imagined it was an illness given the entire paraphernalia I witnessed being used to stop it.
One would be forgiven to believe it was taboo for little ones to grind their teeth.
When his minder noticed that he frequently rubbed his two upper and bottom teeth, she quickly suggested a remedy!
“We have to find the softest soil and use it to rub it on his gum and make him swallow some of it, it will make him stop,” she suggested.
She learnt this from a previous family she stayed with in Thamaga, taking care of a child there too, and she continued to assure me that it worked for them and it would, therefore, work well for me.
Her suggestion did not strike me as a surprise, though I could not help imagining what the soil would do to his little supple gums. I had seen worse with teeth grinding children.
My aunt had her daughter wear a sort of necklace with a lizard’s teeth set around her neck to stop her from clenching her jaws.
It still amazes me as to how that would stop the clenching of teeth.
Another remedy I stumbled upon was one of making the child wear a small key around the neck, apparently that would lock the child’s ‘habit’ and would eventually have it stop.
While it is perfectly normal for a parent to worry about the effects that teeth grinding, or bruxism, may have on their child, it is also of prime importance that they do not engage in extreme preventive measures that might endanger the child, such as rubbing soil against its gums or wearing the child a foreign object on his neck, an object he might chew on still!
Though there is no one cause for grinding teeth, doctors and medical experts do not find it strange for a child to grind his baby (milk) teeth.
Babies grind their teeth as a way of dealing with the discomfort of teething or getting used to the sensation of having teeth in their mouths.
The bruxism usually fades after the child grows adult teeth.
In general, teeth grinding can also be due to tension or anxiety, pain from earaches or teething, for example, or when the teeth don’t line up just right.
Some also suggest that allergies may play a role. And there’s some evidence that pinworms are sometimes the culprit.
Doctors advise that parents should be patient, despite the disconcerting noise because the clenching and gnashing probably will have no damage on the child and will eventually out grow it.
The suggested time for the teeth grinding to fade is during the adolescent stage.
It is after this stage that parents are advised to look deeper into the issue because then, it might start being a disorder of sorts.
Addressing the problem doesn’t include the use of reptile teeth, metal locks or dirty soil.
Experts advise that a concerned parent should see a dentist to monitor the child’s teeth and address any developing problems such as damaged enamel, like pulp exposure, cavities, and fractures.
It is also important to help a child who grinds his or her teeth by trying to make them comfortable, to find the root cause of the problem if it does not have to do with teething.
Some problems, like earaches or headaches, might cause bruxism so a proper examination has to be done to rule this out.
The underlying problem should then be managed to ease the child’s pain and help it with the bruxism.
Always consult qualified personnel.
A toddler grinding his teeth is not what is referred to in the Bible as the gnashing of teeth.
It is just another chapter in a baby’s development and growth.