1-3 years

Common toddler teeth issues include teething, sucking thumbs and grinding teeth. These are a normal part of your child’s development and are usually nothing to worry about.

Teething in toddlers

Many people think that ‘teething’ children:

  • cry a lot or seem extra cranky
  • don’t feed as well as usual
  • suck on objects like toys, dummies and bibs
  • have more dirty nappies 
  • pull the ear on the same side as the tooth coming through.

These signs might be caused by teething – or they might just be a normal part of development or a result of minor infections and illnesses.

Things to try
If you’re concerned about your child’s teething, you can try:

  • giving your child something to bite on, such as a cold (but not frozen) teething ring, toothbrush or dummy
  • cooking mushier foods, which need less chewing
  • giving your child something firm, like a sugar-free rusk, to suck on.
If your child isn’t well, it’s always best to take her to the GP or your child and family health nurse – especially if she has a fever or diarrhoea or you’re worried about any other symptoms. Teething might not be the problem.

Other toddler teeth issues

Many toddlers still love their dummies. But it might be a good idea to encourage your child to let go of the dummy at this stage.

Sucking thumbs or fingers is a natural reflex in babies and young children. Most children grow out of thumb-sucking and finger-sucking around 2-4 years of age.

It’s pretty common for toddlers to grind their teeth, and this issue doesn’t usually need treatment. Some children clench their jaws quite firmly, and others grind their teeth so hard that it makes a noise. Some children grind their teeth during sleep. Often, they don’t wake up when they do it – but other people do!

Most of the time, teeth-grinding doesn’t last and doesn’t damage your child’s teeth. But it could lead to your child having headaches and tooth or jaw pain, or wearing down his teeth. If it keeps going or you’re concerned, you might want to talk to your dentist.

Injuries to your toddler’s face and teeth can happen once she starts walking – and running and climbing! It’s a good idea to see a doctor or dentist if your child damages her teeth or face, especially if a tooth turns black or purple.

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Last updated or reviewed
07-12-2015

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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