One-Year-Old Grinding Teeth While Awake – Bruxism, Cerebral Palsy, Or TMJ?

Teeth grinding is a common phenomenon amongst younger children. Through this, they’re exploring their mouth but could also be in pain and discomfort from teething. But if it’s becoming excessive, it could be bruxism which affects 20 to 30 percent of children while awake or sleeping. It could also be triggered by stress, ear infection, consuming caffeinated drinks, misalignment of teeth, TMJ disorder, or a neurological disorder. To provide relief, try giving teethers and making a soothing bedtime routine. If you see other concerning signs, refer to a doctor for advice. 

As your little munchkin starts growing up, each one of their milestones and achievements is celebrated. And when it comes to teething which will help them finally start eating solid foods, you’re both relieved and excited about this journey.

Teething can be quite a painful journey for your toddler.

During this process, toddlers’ grinding is a common habit as they try to figure out and explore this new development.

But sometimes, this teeth grinding can get out of hand. They do this while awake, and they might even start doing it in their sleep. Excessive teeth grinding is bad for your one-year-old and can lead to several development issues.

Let’s see how it occurs and how to treat this issue!

Tooth development in a one-year-old

It gives you a sense of accomplishment when you finally notice white teeth about to sprout off your baby’s gums.

Finally, their teeth are about to come, and you can start onto the next chapter of their development.

As good as it feels for the parents, the teething process can be painful for your toddler. Though the first tooth appears as early as 4 months after birth, there’s no set time for when they might start teething.

Some babies start late, and that’s completely fine, but throughout their first year, they should be able to start teething and get a few teeth.

Teeth grinding in one-year-olds

Teeth grinding is a fairly common issue amongst toddlers.

A one year old is eating cold grapes to relieve his teething pain

When their teeth start showing up, their gums might swell and become irritated as teething starts. They might want to bite down on something constantly.

That’s why teething toys are so popular, allowing a toddler to bite down on something. There’re even toys that, when bitten down, provide a sweet honey-like taste to provide comfort to the baby’s gums.

It’s also a way of your baby trying to learn about this new development taking place in their mouth.

Grinding their teeth at night is common, but only if done sometimes and doesn’t hinder their mouth or jaw.

Excessive teeth grinding in one-year-old

If you see your toddler grinding their teeth constantly at whatever chance they get, awake or asleep, they could have bruxism. 

A one-year-old toddler is using his hand to bite on and relieve his teething pain

It’s a medical condition where babies regularly grind their teeth irrespective of day or night.

Sometimes it’s prevalent during a specific time of the day like some babies start doing it in the evening but might not do it at all during the rest of the day. 

Symptoms of bruxism are:

  • Teeth grinding or jaw clenching
  • Grinding that’s loud to hear
  • Damaged or worn teeth
  • Jaw pain or soreness
  • Earache or headache near temples
  • Tooth sensitivity

Bruxism can occur in children when permanent teeth come and even in adults.

While it’s easier for the adults to convey these symptoms and get them treated in time, it can be challenging for your one-year-old to let you know about the same.

They might have learned a few words to speak to you, but they’re still so young that articulating these symptoms can be tricky. 

Why does my one-year-old grind her teeth?

Mom is trying to comfort her one year old baby who's having lots of teething pain

When you notice your one-year-old grinding their teeth, it’s mostly due to their teething, but if done in excess, it could be due to bruxism.

Since it’s difficult for them to let you know of the symptoms, it’s up to you and your partner to notice these signs of discomfort in them.

Your one-year-old can grind their teeth not just because of teething but also due to other factors:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Ear infection
  • Consuming caffeine-containing food or drinks
  • Slippery bites due to misaligned teeth (malocclusion)
  • Bruxism in parents
  • Neurological disorders like cerebral palsy
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ disorder)

Bruxism can be triggered by these factors mentioned above too. 

It’s up to the parents to notice if something is bothering their kid, which could be causing them stress, maybe like a changing environment.

It could also be if you accidentally let them eat a lot of chocolate or consume a drink containing caffeine.

If happening regularly, then you would need to find out how to treat bruxism in your one-year-old. 

How do I stop my one-year-old from grinding their teeth?

Mom is giving her toddler son a teething toy to use to help relieve his teething pain

Watching your one-year-old struggle with new teeth can be difficult for any parent. While they’re struggling and showing symptoms like grinding their teeth, you can try to make this process easier for them.

Various types of teethers are available like natural rubber, ice teethers, wooden, and even silicone teethers. Each of them is beneficial in a different way. 

You can make their night-time routine more peaceful and less stressful by helping them take a warm bath, reciting a bedtime story, or putting on some soothing music.

If their environment changed recently, that could be a trigger for teeth grinding even when they’re awake. It’s a coping mechanism for dealing with the stress of being in a new environment.

Try talking to them and help them understand how everything will be fine. 

When it comes to using night guards you don’t want to use them for your one-year-old because they’re still so young and growing. There’s a huge probability of them stopping teeth grinding.

The good news is that teeth grinding or bruxism eventually goes away when they lose their baby teeth. If it doesn’t, it can cause serious dental damage. 

When to seek help for your toddler’s teeth grinding

Bruxism can also become severe, making things quite difficult for your toddler. In such rare cases, teeth grinding could also occur from other issues that must be dealt with to stop it. 

If your one-year-old is grinding their teeth severely, the Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics advises parents to keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Any sign of trauma to the teeth or gums, such as redness, swelling, or bleeding
  • If your baby appears to have pain or discomfort in their face 
  • If your toddler has tooth sensitivity to hot or cold food

When your basic home treatments aren’t working their magic, and if you still see your baby grinding their teeth, you would need to seek help from a doctor to get the proper medical advice. 


Which neurological disorder causes teeth grinding?

Bruxism or teeth grinding is one of the common symptoms in babies suffering from a neurological disorder called cerebral palsy.

It’s one of the most severe childhood disabilities due to a lesion in the developing brain.

Oral conditions often observed in this pathogenic are a tendency for the delayed eruption of permanent molars, higher percentages of malocclusion, and parafunctional habits, including bruxism. 

Due to weakened muscles and teeth not being aligned, babies are more prone to teeth grinding. 

Does my one-year-old have TMJ disorder?

If your one-year-old is grinding their teeth excessively and you hear a popping or clicking sound as they open or close their mouth, it could be TMJ disorder.

It’s common in babies with dental problems, joint problems, trauma to the jaw or face, or stress.

It’s essential to watch out for other issues such as headaches, dizziness, pain or swelling around the jaw, ear pain, hearing loss, or constant ringing in the ears. 

Seeking immediate medical advice if you observe any of the above signs is best. TMJ disorder is treatable; if you seek early treatment, you can prevent your child from being in constant discomfort. 

Can bruxism be cured in babies?

Teeth grinding in babies is common, and 20 to 30 percent of children grind or clench their jaws. Often it’s during the night, but it also happens during the day. 

It eventually goes away as you try to help them by providing teethers. You can also make sure to see if factors such as stress cause these teeth to grind. 

If it’s causing your baby too many problems and impacts the growth of teeth, you should immediately seek medical advice. 

Do autistic toddlers grind their teeth?

One of the symptoms in autistic babies is bruxism, commonly known as grinding teeth. It’s because of the wide medical and behavioral symptoms that make routine dental care very difficult. 

But other widely known signs indicate if a toddler is autistic or not. Keep a look out for these signs for a one-year-old. 

How does malocclusion cause the grinding of teeth in babies?

Malocclusion is when the upper and lower teeth don’t line up. It can affect dental health to the point where babies might grind their teeth and can lead to cavities or gum diseases.

It can be inherited, but environmental factors can also cause it. It can be caused by different eating habits, such as nail-biting and thumb sucking. 

To summarise

Watching and hearing your baby grind their teeth can be painful for the parents as it is for the baby. But it’s one of the most common developmental issues with babies in the teething phase.

But if it’s often happening and makes your one-year-old’s life even more complicated, it could be the medical condition known as bruxism. It’s pretty common in young children troubled by teething.

Make sure you make this developmental process easier for them by providing them with teethers. Look for other signs indicating a severe issue with their jaw or gums. Then, you might need professional advice. 

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As a writer for 1happykiddo, Saumya wants to help new parents and older siblings help raise the newest member added to the family. Her parenting tips come from her experience of being 15 years older than her youngest sibling. When not writing, you can find her reading novels, traveling, and cooking nutritious meals.

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