Ugh! Listening to your 2-year-old scraping her upper and lower teeth together can be even more disturbing than hearing fingernails scratch across a chalkboard. 

Contrary to the old wives’ tale, tooth grinding isn’t a sign of intestinal worms. It’s just another one of the weird problems that can occur during deep NREM sleep. 

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, can start as early as the first birthday and cause sleep disruption, tooth wear (even fractures), and jaw pain. It can be provoked by caffeine-containing food and drinks like chocolate, iced tea and cola. And it’s especially common among kids with obvious neurological disorders, like cerebral palsy.

Most kids outgrow tooth grinding by the teen years. In the meantime, stress-reducing bedtime routines can reduce the problem. Sometimes doctors also prescribe mouth guards.

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