baby teeth

Should You Worry if Your Kids Are Grinding Their Teeth?

It’s estimated that up to 30% of kids age 4-10 develop bruxism, a condition commonly known as teeth grinding. But how can you tell if your little ones are grinding? Listen closely while they sleep; you’ll be able to hear a soft grinding noise. Or take note when your kids complain of jaw pain or headaches in the morning. Both could be a sign of teeth grinding.

Fortunately, most cases of childhood grinding resolve on their own before kids lose their baby teeth, so there’s little risk of permanent tooth damage. In other cases, though, teeth grinding can lead to enamel damage and chipped teeth. The best way to approach grinding symptoms is to err on the side of caution: If you see any signs, visit your dentist.

Relief for Teeth Grinders

The causes of childhood bruxism are not completely understood, but most experts believe that stress and/or dental problems may be at its roots. In cases where stress could be the problem, it could help to ask your child if there is anything he or she is worried or upset about and offer gentle reassurance. Also make sure that your child does not eat or engage in physical activity within an hour of bedtime. Generally, the fewer stimuli your child comes across the more relaxed bedtime will be.

Your child could also be a good candidate for a custom dental night guard, which can help prevent tooth damage and jaw stress. A complete dental exam may also be in order; if teeth grinding is due to misalignment or other dental problems, we can create the proper treatment for your little one.

What to Do During a Dental Emergency

A dental emergency is always a stressful situation, but it can become absolutely nerve-racking when your dentist is out of the office. Whether it’s late Saturday night and your dentist won’t be back in until Monday, or if your dentist is out of the country on 2-week vacation, a dental emergency can be difficult to manage on your own. There are some basic things that you can do to prevent or cope with dental emergencies when they occur.
The best way to handle a potential dental emergency is to avoid it in the first place. The most common dental emergency is pain or swelling from an infected tooth. In most cases, this does not happen suddenly, overnight. Typically, a person has some degree of pain or discomfort for several days or even longer before they are in severe pain and in need of emergency dental care. The best advice is to visit the dentist at the first sign of any discomfort in the teeth or gums.
If a dental emergency does occur when your dentist is unavailable, there are several things that you can do. Pain in the teeth or gums can often be effectively handled with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil®), naproxen (Aleve®), or acetaminophen (Tylenol®), to be taken as directed. Rinsing with warm salt water (a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water) can help temporarily relieve puffy or swollen cheeks and gums. Some-store bought products like Orajel® can also be effective in relieving minor soreness of the gums. If you have a broken tooth, a piece of wax or even some soft chewing gum can cover a sharp edge until you can get to the dentist.
Your dentist should also be available for advice if a dental emergency occurs. Thanks to cell phones and answering services, patients can often reach their dentist after office hours. This gives the dentist the ability to contact the pharmacy for antibiotics and pain medication should they feel that patients need them. If your dentist is going to be out of the office for more than a few days, he or she should have another dentist available to treat any dental emergencies that may occur.

Sippy Cup: Friend Or Foe?

The sippy cup is a spill proof, lid-covered drinking cup designed to help parents teach their toddlers how to drink without spilling. Children can toss it, drop it and turn it upside down, but they can’t spill its contents. That’s thanks to a valve in the top that releases liquid only when a child puts his lips around the tip and sucks. Day after day countless parents reach for that sippy cup their toddlers love so well, proud that the bottle is a thing of the past, and thrilled that their car seats and living room carpets will be spared! These parents though, should think twice before resorting to extended use of the sippy cup.

Many parents operate under the mistaken impression that the sippy cup is better than allowing the child to sleep with a bottle. The damage done by the bedtime bottle is fueled by the fact that no saliva flows during sleep to clear liquids from the mouth or dilute them. Liquids bathe the teeth all night. The sippy cup filled with sweetened liquids can cause the same damaging effects. The child’s teeth are immersed in the liquid during drinking and many parents allow unlimited access to the sippy cup.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age and be encouraged to drink from a cup. Parents are cautioned however that the repetitive consumption of liquids that contain fermentable carbohydrates (milk, juice, soft drinks etc.) from a bottle or sippy cup should be avoided.

 Be very selective about the liquids that you give your child from the sippy cup. Avoid milk, juice, and soft drinks. Try water or sugar free beverages instead.

 Use the sippy cup only as a transition to a regular cup or adult drinking glass with no lid.

 Consider cup design carefully. A pop-up straw reduces the amount of time the liquid is in contact with the teeth.

 Some speech pathologists have expressed concern about over use of the sippy cup and liken its use to a thumb-sucking habit, the effects of which are well documented.