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Children and Teeth Grinding

Grind, grind, grind…

…if your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what is medically known as bruxism, is common in children. In fact, almost 30% of children grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their early teenage years.

Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep don’t even realize they are doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, shoulder, or headache pain. Most often, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed by the child.

There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from worn and cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. Your dentist can tell you if your child’s teeth grinding is not something to be concerned with or just monitor. Teeth grinding, especially when all of the permanent teeth are in,  can have serious consequences that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.

The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:

  • Grinding sounds when your child is sleeping
  • Complaints of tightness or pain in the jaw
  • Complaints of headaches, earaches, or facial pain
  • Complaints of pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth

If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, our doctors and our team will be able to help. Please contact us at one of our 2 offices (West Portland or North Portland) if you have questions, www.visitworldofsmiles.com.

Many parents don’t realize how early oral care needs to start.

Many parents don’t realize how early oral care needs to start.

By Melinda Wenner Moyer

160726_KIDS_oral-health

If you hear blood-curdling screams coming from my house at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., don’t fret: I’m just brushing my 2-year-old’s teeth. It’s a traumatic endeavor for us both, and I admit that I’ve sometimes wondered: Is this really worth it? Baby teeth are just, like, temporary teeth, right?

Then I saw some statistics on cavities in young kids and spoke with a couple of pediatric dentists, and was surprised to discover that caring for your wee one’s teeth isn’t optional—it’s essential. So is taking kids to the dentist at a very young age. Don’t worry; you can learn from my mistakes, because I’ve been doing pretty much everything wrong.

Let’s start with the stats: Numbers of cavities among kids have been going down in general, but cavities in baby teeth have become more common over the past 20 years. Today, a whopping 60 percent of 5-year-olds have had at least one cavity; many have had five or even 10. Dental decay in kids isn’t just a nuisance—it can cause a lot of pain, and decayed teeth often have to be repaired or pulled using general anesthesia, which, as I’ve previously reported, isn’t risk-free. And when baby teeth are pulled, they can no longer do the important job of holding space for the budding permanent teeth—some of which don’t come in until age 12—so the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that dentists fit “space maintainers” in their stead when baby teeth are lost early. Cavities in baby teeth can also harm the permanent teeth directly, if the tissue in the central portion of the baby tooth gets infected.

There is good news, though: “Dental decay is preventable,” says AAPD president Jade Miller. When dentists see a cavity forming, they can actually reverse the process—which is in part why the organization recommends that parents bring their children to the dentist when they get their first tooth or by the time they turn 1, at the latest. (If these recommendations don’t mesh with what you’ve heard, that’s probably because the American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend the first dental visit by age 3. But since 2003, the AAP and the AAPD have both recommended this timeline.)

To understand how dentists work their magic, you first need to know how cavities are formed. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar and carbohydrates your kids eat, releasing acid in response. This acid breaks down tooth enamel and leads to tooth decay, explaining why dentists aren’t fond of kids consuming candy and juice; sugary foods provide feasts for mouth bacteria and lead to a buildup of cavity-causing acid. (Whole fruit, though, is fine: Chewing it stimulates saliva production, which helps to keep teeth clean, and its fibrous texture stimulates the gums.)

One way pediatric dentists can reverse burgeoning cavities is by applying a fluoride varnish to kids’ teeth, which causes fluoride to be released when the pH of the tooth drops as a result of the acid. The fluoride then helps rebuild the tooth enamel. When I finally brought my daughter to a pediatric dentist last week—those statistics on cavities really rattled me!—he didn’t even try to clean her teeth, because (surprise!) she was so uncooperative. But he did apply a quick fluoride varnish. Fluoride from drinking water and toothpaste can also get incorporated into the tooth enamel itself as it grows, thereby protecting it from future decay.

Of course, pediatric dentists do more than just deal with cavities in young toddlers; they can determine whether kids are doing things that might put them at risk for future cavities. For instance, if you’re letting little Jaden take a bottle of milk or juice into the crib with him at night, that’s a red flag for future cavities, and a dentist would likely tell you to stop. (This is so common it has its own name: baby bottle tooth decay.)  The dentist can also check kids for signs of bigger dental or jaw problems. I got a talking-to about my daughter’s pacifier use, which is causing her to develop a gap between her upper and lower teeth. He advised me to nip her pacifier and periodically trim it more, to make it less damaging and appealing and hopefully prompt her to stop reaching for it.

Infant visits also give dentists the chance to educate parents on what to expect during teething and how best to care for kids’ teeth. If I had taken my daughter in when she got her first tooth, I might not be suffering through daily tooth-brushing battles, because I would have been told to wipe her teeth with a washcloth each day as an infant (which I didn’t do) and to start brushing with a toothbrush at age 1 (didn’t do that either). These are habits that establish oral care as a routine early on, making kids more compliant when they hit the terrible twos. Other important advice you might not have heard: brush your kid’s teeth for them at least once a day until they turn 8 or 9—oops, my 5-year-old son has been brushing solo for at least a year!—because the fine motor skills that make for good brushing “don’t really develop until about the age when a child can begin to tie shoes or write in cursive,” Miller explains; and start flossing when your child’s teeth no longer have space between them, because then the toothbrush isn’t able to reach plaque and debris between the teeth. (Yup, cavities can form between teeth, too.)

OK, but what if you, like me, have a kid who just won’t let you near her pearly whites? Jessica Lee, a pediatric dentist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, suggests experimenting with different types of toothbrushes—maybe little Anna would prefer an electronic toothbrush to a manual one, or vice versa. IPad apps like Brusheez, a brushing timer with characters and music, may also make the task more fun. Or, try letting your kid brush your teeth while you’re brushing hers. If you still can’t get in there for more than a few seconds, Lee suggests that you put a rice grain–size amount of fluoride toothpaste on the brush or your finger and at least just get a little bit of fluoride on her teeth. (Generally, a child shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste until she knows not to swallow it, but it’s OK, Lee says, to use a tiny amount in this way.)

This article originally appeared on 7/29/16, http://slate.me/2av9Yc9

To schedule an appointment or for more information, please visit, www.visitworldofsmiles.com. We have two Portland area locations to serve you.

Children and Grinding

grindingGrind, grind, grind… if your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what is medically known as bruxism, is common in children. In fact, almost 30% of children grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their early teenage years.

Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep don’t even realize they are doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, shoulder, or headache pain. Most often, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed by the child.

There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from worn and cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. Your dentist can tell you if your child’s teeth grinding is not something to be concerned with or just monitor. Teeth grinding, especially when all of the permanent teeth are in,  can have serious consequences that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.

The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:

  • Grinding sounds when your child is sleeping
  • Complaints of tightness or pain in the jaw
  • Complaints of headaches, earaches, or facial pain
  • Complaints of pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth

If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, our doctors and our team will be able to help. Please give us a call for an evaluation!

 

Brushing Baby Teeth – Demo

Dr. Michelle Stafford of World Of Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in Portland, OR demonstrates brushing on a 1 year old.

Energizing our Kids

Soft Drinks! Sports Drinks! and Energy Drinks! How do these impact the health of our children?
Soft Drinks, Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks have many things in common but it’s important to clarify the differences. All these types of drinks contain various chemicals and sweeteners, usually sugar and often caffeine. Sports Drinks (such as Gatorade) contain electrolytes, minerals, carbohydrates and flavoring and are designed to replace water and electrolytes for athletes who participate in vigorous, prolonged activities. These drinks are not designed for children or adolescents who routinely run around and play during various activities.
Energy Drinks also contain stimulants such as guarana, taurine and caffeine. Some bottles of energy drinks can have up to 500 mg of caffeine! The equivalent of 14 cans of soda! Caffeine takes about six hours to be released out of the body through urine, meaning that side effects such as jitteriness, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, concentration difficulties, headaches, and irritability may last up to six hours.
According to the Academy of Sports Dentistry, “the consumption of these drinks has increased 300% in the last 20 years, and serving sizes have ballooned from 185 grams in the 1950’s to 500 grams in the 1990’s.”
The effects of sugar on the teeth and body are well-known. The bacteria that causes cavities in teeth feed on sugar and when the teeth are bathed in sugary drinks that bacteria has a feeding frenzy, creating tooth decay. Sugar consumption also negatively impacts overall health which can be seen with the increase in childhood obesity and diabetes. From 1980 to 2008 the rate of childhood obesity in children aged 6-11 rose from 7% to almost 20%. Overweight children have a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Even drinks marketed as healthy options contain a surprising amount of sugar. For instance, Vitamin Water sounds healthy with its misleading name. However, owned by Coca-Cola, it actually contains 32 grams or 8 teaspoons of sugar.

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