Grinding teeth

by Andrea
(North Carolina)

Hi, My name is Andrea I am a CBRS provider here in my hometown and I work with many children who have SPD. I don't know much about this disorder and have only recently began to do intense research of SPD so that I can better my sessions with my children and give parents helpful information and ideas to help make life easier at home for them.

One child that I currently work with is constantly grinding his teeth. I'm not sure why he does this and his mother is very concerned. I promised her that I would try to help find a solution to this problem. So my question is why does this child grind his teeth and are there any products or ideas that I could use to help deter this behavior?

Ah, grinding the teeth. As you know, it could have several psychological reasons such as stress and anxiety that may or may not be related to the SPD. If these have been explored and "ruled out", then it may be related to seeking out deep pressure/proprioceptive input. It may be his way of seeking this type of input to calm and organize himself. And, related to stress and anxiety, it may be worse during those times as his neurological system becomes "disorganized".

If he is doing it at nigh time only, there are mouth guards that are specifically used to stop the grinding and prevent his teeth from wearing down. But, it sounds like this is not really the issue? That he is doing it throughout the day?

If that is the case there are several things that could help, from a sensory standpoint. I would make sure his OT (I do hope he is working with one if he does have SPD!) has him on a regular sensory diet that includes regular and frequent deep pressure, proprioceptive, and/or heavy work activities. This will help keep his system regulated throughout the day. He is probably seeking input and just needs a more "acceptable" way of getting that input... that's how you can change it... replace it.

Other things that may help would be weighted objects such as a weighted blanket, weighted lap pad, weighted vest, or weighted hat. These would give him the deep pressure his body is craving. However, this needs to be given and monitored by the OT for the right amount of weight, frequency of use, any adverse reactions (not typical, but just in case). Have mom talk to his OT about these.

Other things that may help is "chewelry", fidgets, chewable pencil toppers, and lots of crunchy, chewy, and/or strong intense flavors (sweet and sour are good), to give his mouth the organizing deep pressure and oral input he may be craving.

He should also be in regular sensory integrative OT on a bi-weekly basis or weekly, at minimum. Specifically if he is having other SPD issues, besides the teeth grinding.

Next time he comes in, try some sour patch kids, gummy worms, sour gum, etc. to see how he reacts to it during and after the session.

Does he grind his teeth during your sessions? When does he do it most? In school? At home? All the time? How long has this been going on? Has anything helped? Made it worse?

For any of the information, activities or product ideas I listed, just go to my site search page (button on the left hand side of any page), click the button that says for my website, then type in anything I mentioned. You will find the resources you need. If you have trouble finding anything, feel free to ask... I can direct you further. You will find a lot of ideas and links to helpful resources/products on my Treatment Activities page.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have further questions or additional information.

Anyone else have an SPD teeth grinder?? Let Andrea know anything that has helped. Thanks in advance!

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Sep 06, 2008
thank you
by: christine

This sounds like my son.. he's almost 5 and did this in march, stopped then started it again a few weeks ago and its driving me crazy. Thanks for the article, it helped me. But I do also have 1 question... he also has reflux. Can this make the tooth grinding worse if it's bothering him?

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