Teeth Grinding Facts and FAQs

Teeth Grinding Facts and FAQs

Teeth grinding is surprisingly common among children, teens and adults. Called bruxism (from Greek ebryxa, to gnash the teeth), it can be so perplexing and alarming to parents, especially when you are woken up in the middle of the night by the loud, screeching noise– but your child sleeps on. What causes it? Aside from being an unconscious habit, some children grind their jaws to soothe themselves during teething. In the same way, some do it during an earache. Amphetamines (for ADHD) and antidepressants are both associated with increased incidence of teeth grinding. Doesn’t it hurt? No. Bruxing is one of those unconscious habits a child can get, like cheek biting, nail biting and thumb sucking. Your child may grind his/her teeth during the day (diurnal) or at night (nocturnal). When awake, your child probably grinds his/her teeth when angry or studying, completely unaware of doing so! Bruxism often occurs during stressful situations and periods of intense concentration. Point it out as it’s happening and your child can stop it. On the other hand, your child can’t consciously stop bruxing while asleep so this is a more challenging presentation to manage. Can it damage my child’s teeth? Yes, it can. Excessive teeth grinding can wear down tooth enamel and may cause a headache, ear pain, jaw pain. But this is rare in adults, and even rarer in kids and teens. Tooth enamel is more often damaged by acids from juice, soft drinks and other sugary drinks and treats. If your […]

Sealing Out Tooth Decay

Sealing out decay is a terrific way to ensure your child doesn’t suffer a toothache. Kids can often neglect brushing their molars, leading to tooth decay and premature tooth loss and the risk of childhood periodontal disease. The top surfaces of molars are among the hardest surfaces on teeth to clean due to their position deep in the mouth and the convoluted nature of the hills and valleys on their biting surfaces. That’s where sealants come in handy. True to its name, a dental sealant acts as a seal for the grooves in your child’s back teeth, where dental cavities often occur. Sealants shield your child’s teeth from food, bacteria, acids and plaque. Together with a good dental health routine at home and a regular visit to your pediatric dentist, sealants are a huge protective mechanism for your child’s smile. 4 out of 5 instances of tooth decay happen in the molars. They’re hard to clean, and kids so often let their sweets sit there! All that acid and bacteria from sugar and food can wreak havoc fast, if not properly swept away or sealed out. Depending on your child’s teeth condition and habits, your pediatric dentist can recommend applying sealants to the molars and other teeth too, like the ones next to the molars, the bicuspids. Despite their protection, dental sealants shouldn’t replace dental hygiene and fluoride supplements. But they do protect highly vulnerable tooth enamel. Sealants are almost invisible too and do not change the size or shape […]

What is Xylitol? Does it Really Help?

Xylitol is often met with doubt by many parents, like with most “new” names in the medical and dental industry. But xylitol really does help. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of xylitol on the dental health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs. Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in small amounts from berries, lettuce, hardwoods (birch trees), and other fruits and vegetables. A cup of raspberries contains less than a gram of xylitol. It’s also found in corncobs, and this is where some concerns about GMO come from, since a lot of corn is now genetically modified. The name comes from xylan, a plant cellulose. Xylitol is not readily available like honey and maple syrup. Xylitol is produced by hydrogenating xylan. Aside from hydrogen, hydrogenation involves catalyst metals nickel, palladium or platinum. Don’t worry– the risk of metal residue toxicity is rare and nonexistent. But all the same for the highest quality, purest form of xylitol, look for ADA seals on products and birch-based xylitol (rather than corn-based), made in North America (US and Canada) or Europe. How does xylitol prevent tooth decay? This is long established by scientific studies and research. Xylitol promotes dental health in two ways. First, xylitol doesn’t ferment like most sugars, so it doesn’t feed the bacteria (strep mutans) responsible for tooth decay. The more you use xylitol, it begins to change the bacteria strep mutans into their less harmful versions, and the original, bad […]

Bad Breath and Your Kids

Morning dragon mouth is normal for kids, but persistent bad breath can be a sign of a serious dental issue, or another illness. If you notice persistent bad breath (formally described as chronic halitosis) in your kids, the first question is whether they’ve brushed, flossed and rinsed recently. If they haven’t, it may be time for a good old fashioned dragging them by the ear to the bathroom to brush their teeth. Older kids age 6 and up can also use antiseptic mouthwash, after brushing, to kill mouth bacteria. Bacteria are always the primary source of bad breath. While it is common to think of bacteria accumulating on the teeth and around the gums, they could also be making a home on the tongue. Parents usually try to solve this by brushing their kids’ tongues. This is generally not the recommendation as you will just push the bacteria deeper in, and some of the bacteria moves into the toothbrush and get back in the mouth later. The best practice is to use a tongue scraper which is commonly found in the dental aisle at your local store. The recommended technique involves gently but firmly scraping your child’s tongue in an outward direction, starting as far back (near the throat) as comfortable. Scrape a few times in the morning after brushing, rinsing the scraper under hot water between each scrape. If bacteria aren’t on the tongue, it could be in the throat. Bacteria can collect in the soft tissue in the […]

FDA Releases Consumer Update About Braces

The FDA recently issued a consumer update on braces, a nice Q&A addressing the concerns that come to mind when your dentist says you or your child needs braces. Orthodontics can be associated with some negative thoughts. For instance, many kids get scared that it might hurt or that they may get teased (though braces and orthodontic treatment become more popular by the year and this has greatly gone away today), and teenagers may think they’re too old for it. A good chunk of the FDA Consumer Update addresses these implied concerns, outlining clear braces and aligners, Invisalign. Appearances aside, the Q&A also explains how braces and aligners work, how long treatments may last, and the importance of meticulous dental hygiene while wearing braces. Making sure your teeth are clean removes the risk of cavities. Poor dental care diminishes the effectiveness of braces, and prolongs the time they have to be worn. Eating ‘safe’ food– no hard candies, no gummy bears, and no gum–that won’t damage braces (and teeth) is also for the best, to avoid the risk of damaging braces. But the biggest risk factor for patients wearing braces is clearly liquid sugar (pop, juice, Gatorade, etc) that is notorious for causing the white stains on teeth after braces. How many times have you heard a kid wail, “I thought it was over! Why do I have to wear a retainer?!” The FDA answers that, too, stressing that all patients that want to keep that smile in tip top […]

What Are Wisdom Teeth and How Are They Treated?

Wisdom teeth typically start developing under the gums around age 10, far sooner than they typically are managed or even a consideration on a parent’s radar screen. However, they typically start to attempt eruption around 17, which tends to coincide with the end of high school (that’s how they got their name). Teens and parents probably use some of the wisdom from these teeth in making the great decision to have them monitored by your pediatric dentist or orthodontist and managed by an oral surgeon under the age of 25. Some teens get their wisdom teeth without any fanfare except for the usual gum soreness of teeth cutting through. In some cases, this in itself can be the source of problems, however. The very back of the mouth is hard to reach, hard to clean, with lower quality gum tissue less resistant to allowing food particles and plaque under the gumline. If plaque and bacteria are allowed to happily burrow in the grooves between the wisdom tooth and gum, this can cause tooth decay even before the tooth gets through the tissues. Infection or abscesses can also occur. Wisdom teeth often need to be removed because of this reason, in addition to the following equally painful situations: The tooth is decayed or broken Not enough room in the mouth, so the wisdom tooth is disturbing the natural tooth alignment or orthodontic treatment or even blocking a perfectly good 2nd molar from erupting into the mouth The tooth is growing in […]

Tigers vs Indians Raffle

4 tickets will be given away to a patient at our office! The last day to enter is Sunday August 27. What: Detroit Tigers vs Cleveland Indians When: Friday September 1, 2017 at 7:10 PM Where: Comerica Park How: To be qualified for this raffle you must be a patient at our office About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Delaney, Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options.  We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals. Photo courtesy of https://wall.alphacoders.com/by_sub_category.php?id=215313

Do you have Sensitive Teeth?

If you experience some sensitivity or pain to hot or cold beverages or food, or if brushing and flossing is a painful experience, you may have sensitive teeth. There are a number of causes for teeth sensitivity. The simplest explanation is that it could be a sign of tooth decay or cavities. Fractured teeth, worn down fillings, or a high filling can also have this effect on your oral health. Gum disease, worn tooth enamel, or an exposed tooth root can be a cause as well. Your teeth have a protective layer of enamel that protects the crown of the tooth and this is the hardest part of our bodies. Roots are covered by a layer of cementum that protects the tooth root. Underneath these protective layers lies the dentin. The dentin is less dense and has small tubules that connect the outside and inside (nerve canal) of the tooth. When a tooth loses its protective covering (enamel or cementum), it allows heat, cold, and acidic food to change the pressure in the tubules which stimulates the nerves and cells inside the tubules. Unfortunately, the only sensation the nerve endings in the tooth can communicate to our brains is pain . This causes tooth sensitivity. However the protective coating (enamel or cementum is violated) it is usually due to some breakdown of the tooth. Cavities or tooth fractures break the seal of the enamel. Gum recession typically leads to cementum exposure and this is not hard enough to withstand our […]

Some Reminders About Baby’s Oral Health

We wanted to use this blog post to highlight some interesting factoids concerning your baby’s oral health. Newborn babies are not born with the bacteria that leads to cavities. Newborns only receive these bacteria through the saliva of their caregivers. Caregivers pass their saliva onto baby by blowing on their food, sharing spoons, testing their food, or even putting baby’s pacifier into their own mouths to “clean it off.” Parents and caregivers can help prevent or slow the exposure to the cavity causing bacteria Streptococcus Mutans by being healthy themselves. Eating healthy foods, brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, and visiting your dentist to keep your own mouth as clean as possible will allow for more worry-free times when you do kiss your beautiful baby! Around six months of age to a year, you will typically see your baby’s first tooth appear. It is an exciting time and a new stage in your baby’s development. While these teeth are coming in, we often refer to this time as “teething.” Gums may have swelling and some babies may become a little fussy or irritable during this time. They may even have a harder time falling asleep. Teething babies may drool more than normal during this time. This is all normal. However, if you find your baby has a fever or diarrhea or seems extremely uncomfortable, it is a good idea to call your doctor. Once teeth do appear, you should begin brushing your baby’s teeth with a tiny smear of toothpaste […]

Have You Ever Wondered Why So Many People Need Braces?

Pretty much everyone sees the allure of beautifully straight teeth and a healthy bite. While we are fortunate to have excellent technology and knowledge of how to use it to straighten teeth today, have you ever wondered why so many people have crooked teeth or bite problems? Straight teeth look great and they are also healthier as they simplify our overall oral care. So, why aren’t we all born with beautiful, straight teeth? There are some theories on why this is the case. One belief is that our modern diet is part of the reason why our teeth are crooked. The modern human jaw doesn’t always have enough room to fit all the teeth we have. Some believe that as humans evolved and began growing their own food and raising animals, the way they used their teeth changed. Archeologists have noticed that before times of agriculture, jawbones and teeth showed significantly more wear and tear, but very little crowding. Our jaws became smaller over time because the strength required to chew processed food is much littler. However, the number of teeth we had stayed the same, causing the crowding we see today. Some archeologists found that the shape of the upper jaw was significantly different between hunter-gatherers and farmers, believing that the introduction of softer foods may have protected those with shorter, weaker jaws, with the side effect of overcrowding of teeth. Of course, there are environmental reasons for crooked teeth or bad bites aside from genetic causes. These things […]

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