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Teeth grinding or bruxism can be a common occurrence at one time or another for many adults. In fact, it is actually more common in children. It is believed that about 30% of all children grind or clench their teeth. Luckily, most kids usually move past grinding or clenching by the time they are a teenager.

Why Do Children Grind Their Teeth?

Kids grind their teeth for similar reasons that adults do. Below you will find a list of the most common causes:

-Stress.

-Jaw Growth.

-Response To Pain (earache or toothache).

-Malocclusion.

-Result Of Losing Teeth.

-Allergies.

How To Tell If Your Child Is A Teeth Grinder?

Many children who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they are doing it. In fact, upon waking in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, or shoulder pain. It is usually a parent or sibling who notices it first. However, some children will experience some or all of the symptoms listed above.

What Can Teeth Grinding Do To Your Child’s Dental Health?

Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications including:

-Fractured Teeth.

-Abnormal Wear To Crowns Of Teeth.

-Increased Temperature Sensitivity.

-Gum Tissue Recession.

-Jaw Misalignment.

Treatment For Teeth Grinding

Treatment usually includes close monitoring of a child’s teeth grinding. If the teeth grinding continues then a custom made mouthguard may be necessary to protect the teeth from further damage. If the grinding is from stress it is important to talk to your children to see what might be bothering them. Stress induced bruxism can be avoided, however, by talking with kids regularly about their feelings and helping them deal with stress.

Bruxism Conclusion

If you notice your child is grinding his/her teeth bring them in for a complete dental evaluation with your dentist. This will ensure there is no damage and give you the ability to coordinate a good plan going forward.

As we age many changes occur in our bodies including our teeth. Our teeth shift and move over time due to many forces that we control and ones we do not. These forces include tongue movements, lips pushing against our teeth, and how our teeth come together. Below we will review some of these forces in greater detail.

Forces Attempting To Move Our Teeth

-Tongue Habits. The most common is an abnormal tongue thrust. Our tongue places pressure on our teeth through eating, swallowing, and talking. We do not even realize how often our tongue presses against our teeth. If you swallow, you will realize that your tongue presses against your upper teeth. For most of us, this is not an issue but for others with a powerful tongue thrust, this can cause tooth movement over time.

-Lip Habits. The forces that your lips apply to your teeth can actually cause your teeth to move.  A good example is tucking your lower lip behind your upper teeth.  This is especially common in younger children and people who bite their lips when they get nervous. The forces over time can cause those teeth to shift outward.

-Frenum Issues. The frena is the attachment between your lips and tongue to the gum tissues attached to the teeth. The one on the inside by your tongue is called a lingual frenum. The other two are on the inside of your lips and called a labial frenum. The lingual frenum generally does not affect the teeth but can affect eating, speech, and swallowing as it can constrict tongue movement. The labial frenum can play a part in moving the front two teeth apart. To alleviate this your dentist or oral surgeon can remove the labial frenum surgically.

-Forces From Our Teeth. Our teeth are in a constant state of pressure from each other.  Normally when you bite together, your teeth touch and rest in a certain position.  This position is known as centric occlusion.  Normally, the top teeth oppose the bottom teeth and keep them in line. However, if you lose a tooth or a tooth becomes badly damaged from trauma or tooth decay space opens up. The teeth on either side of the lost tooth move, as will the tooth that opposes it. For example, if you lost a lower tooth, the tooth on the upper jaw that normally hits it would start to grow down slightly to fill in the space and the adjacent teeth to the lost tooth would start to lean in towards the empty gap.

-Genetics. Our body is hardwired with a set of instructions and our genetics determine if our teeth will be straight or not.

-Tooth Decay. If left untreated, your tooth will eventually break down changing its shape and size. This will open space up causing our teeth to shift into that space. Also, a tooth restored improperly can also change the tooth’s relationship to the other teeth causing changes as well.

-Age. As we age, the area between the teeth starts to wear away. When this happens, the enamel begins to thin out. And, because the lower teeth are inherently thinner, they wear out faster. The more wear and tear on the lower teeth, the less able they are to withstand the force of the top teeth when biting down, resulting in shifting.

-Teeth Grinding (Bruxism). Teeth grinding forces the lower jaw forward and puts tension on the upper teeth. The continual thrusting affects the position of the upper arch, pushing it out of alignment.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different forces that are constantly acting on your teeth that could cause them to move. It is important to treat those forces that you can control. See your dentist if you feel your teeth are shifting to avoid future issues.

Stress is the body’s internal and external reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional response. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or anxious.

Too much stress is known to be bad for us but did you know that stress can also cause issues to your dental health?

Dental Issues That Can Be Caused By Stress

Poor Dental Hygiene

When a person is under stress they tend to lose focus on basic habits and this includes being diligent with maintaining their dental hygiene. If you do not take care of your dental hygiene, your dental health as well as your general health will begin to suffer. This is especially true if you already suffer from periodontal disease as skipping any part of your dental hygiene program can worsen the periodontal disease. Another issue with being under stress is your nutrition changes. Most people dealing with stress tend to develop very unhealthy eating habits. This can include snacking on larger than normal amounts of sugary foods and drinks. These changes will increase your risk for tooth decay.

A good way to combat stress in your life is to maintain a routine of regularly exercising. Exercising regularly can help you relieve some of that stress and give you an extra energy boost. Exercise will also boost your immune system which is always a plus.

Teeth Grinding (also called Bruxism)

One of the main reasons why people grind their teeth is due to stress. Bruxism can occur day or night but it is usually a subconscious act. Stress is not the only cause of bruxism but it does make it worse. Some of the dental issues associated with bruxism include:

-Headaches

-Ear Pain

-Worn Down Teeth.

-Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Issues

-Sensitive Teeth

-Chipped or cracked teeth

-Receding gums or teeth with notches in them at the gum line

Your dentist may recommend a night guard to wear while you sleep to minimize the damage caused to your teeth. Usually, if stress is the cause the bruxism will stop when the stressor is removed.

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores come in many forms. These can include:

-Canker sores. These are small ulcers with a white or grayish base and bordered in red.  There has been vigorous debate regarding what causes canker sores. Some believe it is an immune system issue, bacteria, or even a virus. Consensus is that stress can increase the risk of them showing up. Canker sores are not known to be contagious.

Canker sores generally last about 7-10 days. Spicy foods as well as highly acidic foods should be avoided as they tend to irritate the sores. One of the best forms of relief comes from a dentist prescribed medicine called Debacterol. This medicine is applied directly to the sore and can reduce symptoms as well as the length that the sores are present.

-Cold sores (or fever blisters). These sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are highly contagious. Cold sores are blisters that are filled with fluid that often appear on or around the lips. They can also appear under the nose or around the chin area. Emotional stress can trigger an outbreak. Other triggers include fever, a sunburn, or skin abrasion.

Cold sores often heal on their own in about a week’s time. Treatment is available, including over-the-counter remedies and prescription antiviral drugs. Ask your doctor or dentist if either could help you. It is important to start treatment as soon as you feel or notice the cold sore forming. The sooner you start treatment the effects of the cold sore will be reduced.

Periodontal Disease

Stress can lead to depression. And studies have shown that patients who are depressed have twice the risk of a poor outcome from periodontal disease treatment compared to those who are not in a depressed state. You can not make depression or the stress disappear, of course. But most experts agrees that learning healthy coping strategies can help reduce the risk of periodontal issues getting worse.  Also, people who are depressed tend to have poor overall hygiene and that includes dental hygiene.

Conclusion

Keep in mind we all have stress during the course of our day. Developing proper techniques for dealing with that stress can make a world of difference in the maintanence of our dental health as well as our overall health. As always, see your dentist regularly for dental examinations along with professional cleanings to ensure you keep your smile as healthy as can be!

Remember, eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene help reduce your risks of periodontal disease. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss daily.

Many of us are very diligent about our dental care. This includes regular dental visits, maintaining good dental hygiene, and watching our diet. However, many of us over time develop habits that can create dental issues that effect your dental health. Below you will find a list of the main culrpits when it comes to bad habits and your dental health.

Worst Dental Habits For Your Dental Health

-Chewing On Ice. This is very common and one of those habits most people do not even realize they are doing. Seems harmless enough but it is far from it. The combination of the hardness of the ice cubes and cold temperature can cause your teeth to fracture and crack. They can also cause tiny microscopic fractures in your teeth which can lead to even bigger issues over time.

-Sipping Harmful Drinks. Aside from the dietary concerns, sipping on sugary or even diet soda all day exposes your teeth to sugar and acid. This can cause a host of issues that includes tooth decay, tooth enamel erosion, and even tooth sensitivity. A good tip is to at least use a straw to allow the majority of acids and sugars to pass your teeth.

-Using Teeth To Open Household Items. You would be surprised to hear how many of us use our teeth as tools to open things ranging from a bad of chips, rip a tag off clothing, pull a wristwatch stem, or even attempt to open a bottle. This places tremendous stress on your teeth increasing the chances of weakening the enamel and causing possible fracture of your teeth.

-Sucking On Lemons. Lemons are highly acidic (as most citrus fruits are). The high acid content can erode our tooth enamel which can lead to fractures over time as well as tooth sensitivity.

-Jaw Clenching/Teeth Grinding. Stress tends to be a big driver of this bad habit. Clenching and grinding can create tremendous forces on our teeth. This can lead to fractures of your teeth as well as TMJ issues. It can also damage existing dental work.

-Not Maintaining At Home Dental Hygiene. This may not seem like a bad habit compared to the others but it can cause just as much damage of not more. Poor dental hygiene will lead to development of periodontal disease which will eventually lead to tooth loss and dental infection. It is recommended that you brush your teeth at least 2x per day for about 2 minutes each time and floss at least once per day (Preferably at bedtime).

-Avoid Biting Your Nails. Nail biting damages your hands but it also damages your teeth. It can also create an oral hygiene issue. There is bacteria under all of our nails from our daily activities.

Bad Habits Conclusion

Changing these habits will not be easy but to maintain good dental health it is essential. The first step is realizing you have a possible problem and move towards fixing it. Work with your dentist if you are having trouble beating these habits.