What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Toddler’s Teeth Grinding?
Several things can cause teeth grinding in children. While anxiety and teething are two of the most common, low levels of calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B, C, and D are also highly associated with this movement.
Bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding, is a movement disorder that may cause kids to clench, gnash, and grind their teeth together. Its exact cause remains to be unknown, but the most likely culprits are anxiety, allergies, pinworms, infections and vitamin deficiency
Teeth grinding is most common among kids up to 5 years old. It can be weak, but there are times that it’s severe enough to wake the parents and siblings. This causes distress and worries.
Types of Bruxism
Previously, all bruxism was attributed to similar causes. They are called primary and secondary bruxism.
Primary bruxism has no specific medical cause, unlike secondary bruxism. The latter often require treatment of the underlying condition for it to be resolved.
However, science today shows that there are two distinct types of grinding, and they aren’t always correlated with the same causes. All types seem to affect the teeth similarly, though.
Have you ever noticed your kid staring at a computer screen or television and suddenly unclench his or her teeth? That’s teeth grinding while awake! If this happens often, your child has awake bruxism.
This is commonly caused by stress, anger, anxiety, or frustration. It can also be a coping strategy or simply a habit when someone is in deep concentration.
Teeth grinding at night is certainly a different issue! While awake bruxism is more of an emotional or habitual problem, sleep bruxism is related to sleep quality. This can be happening in the course of sleep apnea or other forms of sleep-disordered breathing.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Teeth Grinding in Children?
- Difficulty eating food as they feel pain when chewing
- Chipped teeth even though he or she has not had any injury
- Pain in the jaw, ear, and other parts of the face
- Lingering but dull pain in the forehead
- Teeth grinding sounds while asleep
Is Teeth Grinding Permanent?
Most kids grow out of it! They stop grinding as soon as their permanent teeth developed. However, teeth grinding in older kids is still possible and this is more likely due to anxiety and other emotional problems such as aggressive behavior. Treat these underlying conditions and bruxism will stop.
Experts find it difficult to give an exact estimate on how long teeth grinding can last, as the causes may be different. It’s also observed that bruxism is often diagnosed late as parents know it only after the physical symptoms are severe.
Is Bruxism Dangerous?
If teeth grinding is severing, it can cause dental lesions and malocclusions later on.
- Teeth pulp may be exposed
- Cavities can get worse because of constant grinding
- Jaw fractures may occur
- Scraping of the enamel will cause sensitivity to temperature
- Some may experience jaw pain, which is also referred to as a temporomandibular joint disorder
- Any reconstructive procedure done can be destroyed easily by constant grinding
What Causes Teeth Grinding in Children?
As mention earlier, experts are still unsure about what triggers teeth grinding, but there are some clues:
Children grinding their teeth, especially while sleeping, often have negative emotions such as stress or it could be a coping mechanism.
Is your toddler teething? Bruxism is common among kids teething because it helps ease the pain, just like when we massage sore muscles using our own hands.
Does your child have an imperfect alignment of teeth? This may cause irritation when the jaw is closed. Experts believe that there is a strong connection between malocclusion and teeth grinding.
Irritation in the inner ear can prompt kids to grind their teeth to ease the discomfort.
Reaction to Medications
Anti-depressants and anti-psychotics can increase the likelihood of teeth grinding. Experts say it’s because of the changes in neurotransmission.
Intestinal parasites release toxins that cause anxiety and nervousness, thus causing teeth grinding.
Vitamin B complex affects several psychological processes. They are linked to depression and panic attacks. Supplementing with these vitamins, specifically, B5 can help control teeth grinding.
Vitamin C is very important for the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and pleasure response and control smooth muscle movements. It also affects the production of adrenaline and non-adrenaline, which greatly affects our response to stress, one of the more common causes of teeth grinding. The proper balance of calcium and magnesium plays a huge role in keeping the nervous system healthy. A deficiency in any of these two may cause cramps, muscle tension, spasms. All these may bring discomfort and stress too!
Vitamin D which is important for your bones, blood cells, and immune system. It also helps you take in and use certain minerals, like calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is also important in maintaining our circadian rhythm or body clock. When sleep is disturbed because of a deficiency, it may cause common sleep disorders like insomnia, teeth grinding, sleep walking, etc.
What to Do and Eat Then?
Many people, not just kids, with bruxism often lack basic nutrients that support healthy cognitive function. If you see your kid grinding, change his or her diet, and check if the symptoms will improve. Research shows that foods high in vitamin B5, C and D, calcium, and magnesium can help put people to sleep deeper at night.
Also, supplementing with these vitamins and minerals can help reduce anxiety and improve cognitive functions during the day. Taking an oral supplement is optional, but eating foods with natural vitamins and minerals is safer and more effective, especially for children.
Vitamin B5 supports regulates glucose and break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins so our bodies can use the energy for muscle and tissue repair. It’s also important for hormone regulation. Eat a lot of eggs, fish, and chicken!
Who doesn’t know about vitamin C? It’s very important as it supports our immune system and fights off many diseases. This vitamin takes part in many bodily functions, including sleep. Make your kids eat a lot of citrus fruits!
And as we know Vitamin D is often referred to as ‘’the sunshine vitamin” because the sun is also one of the best sources of this nutrient, so get enough sunlight without sun damage. Vitamin D deficiency is also caused by poor digestive health. So aside from upping your intake of egg yolks, sardines, tuna, salmon, mushrooms, and fortified foods, be sure to check your gut too!
Did you know that both calcium and magnesium are natural sleeping aids? Calcium is good for your bones. Magnesium, on the other hand, regulates more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. It promotes nerve function and treats anxiety, fatigue, fibromyalgia, and more.
Make your kid eat more green leafy vegetables, especially broccoli, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains to load up with Magnesium. Calcium, on the other hand, naturally abundant in dairy products like cheese and milk. These two are natural soothers and will help kids relax at nighttime.
Potassium, aside from regulating blood pressure, keeps fluid balance. Abnormal levels of potassium can cause irregular heartbeats. But be careful not to over-supplement this mineral because it’s dangerous.
Surely, your kids love bananas and orange juice, so no problem! Potato skins and tomatoes are rich in Potassium too!
Aside from making nutrition and lifestyle changes, checking with your pediatrician and dentist to address the root cause of bruxism is necessary. Again, a poor or misaligned bite or missing teeth can be the problem.
Other Tips to Help Treat Teeth Grinding in Kids
Teeth grinding in kids is fairly common that it is usually considered normal behavior by some people. It is only when a child has severe tooth damage, pain, and sleep disturbances, or the noise is sufficient to alarm parents that it may become a concern. However, the following tips may help prevent or stop bruxism in children:
- Check if your kid is dealing with stress at school. Is he or she troubled with studies or friends? Find activities to make your child at ease, especially before bedtime as that’s when grinding usually starts. Set up a nice water bath, watch a movie, read a story, etc. Make them organize play dates with neighboring kids.
- Be more involved in your kid’s life so you can figure out quickly if there’s something wrong. Talk to your kid regularly, attend PTA meetings, etc.
- If teeth grinding is worsening and starts to cause pain, it is best to consult a pediatrician or a dentist immediately.
- Check for an ear infection. Have it treated to help stop teeth grinding.
- For toddlers, pacifiers can help reduce the damaging effects of teeth grinding is halted. The soft rubbery nipple helps calm kids that are anxious. But be sure to consult a dentist to know how to use a pacifier correctly and avoid dental problems, especially after permanent teeth have developed.
- Kids with poorly or misaligned teeth may find it difficult to close their mouth, and so they start grinding. In such a case, talk to your dentist for a corrective treatment.
- Yoga and meditation can help too! These are good ways to manage stress, and the same can be applied to kids.
- Local therapies like avoiding chewing gum, wet heat, sleeping without a pillow, and no television before bedtime are helpful.