My 15 month old fell and chipped a tooth this morning. Should I take her to a doctor?

(March 2, 2010)

known to be a common problem among both adults and children. It is referred to as bruxism. Grinding of one’s teeth is, generally, not harmful as long as it is only occassionally. It is unlikely that teeth grinding will result in any permanent damage to one’s teeth, especially in the case of a toddler. Teeth grinding generally tend to happen at night.


Around half of most toddlers tend to grind their teeth at some point or the other. Many toddlers begin grinding their teeth at the age of 3 or 4 years old. For some other children, the habit of teeth grinding can start as early as 11 months old. A toddler who grinds her teeth will tend to stop grinding her teeth by the time she is six years old. Studies have not proven what exactly causes a toddler to grind their teeth. Some of the studies suggest that the teeth grinding habit can be caused either by some anxiety or by tensions. Other studies suggest that the pain that child feels while teething or even the pain that accompanies an earache can result in a toddler grinding her teeth. Others are of the opinion that teeth grinding can be caused if there is a malocclusion. This occurs when a few of the toddler’s teeth are not lined up correctly. It may also be the effect of the toddlers getting used to the sensation of the teeth growing in their mouths. Teeth grinding is not something to be too worried about. It does not do any real damage to the teeth.

The worst part that comes along with teeth grinding is the annoying sound of hearing your toddler grind her teeth. Ultimately, she will actually stop the habit on her own. A dentist can do a check and see if there is any other damage being caused to your toddler’s teeth. These include cavities or cracks or fractures in the teeth. Among older children for a case of teeth grinding, a dentist may try fitting them out with a “night guard.” A night guard is a kind of plastic appliance that is molded to the child’s mouth. A night guard helps in preventing the grinding of the teeth and prevents the clenching of the mouth. Normally a night guard is mainly recommended in cases where permanent teeth have grown. Even adults are known to grind their teeth and this occurs mainly when sleeping. But there is no cause for alarm. Since your toddler has chipped her tooth, it would be advisable to gently dissuade her from grinding her teeth. Make sure that you mention this to her dentist as he/she will be able to determine if the grinding is excessive and whether it will have any long-term impact on her teeth.

Submitted by P T on March 2, 2010 at 04:39

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