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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.

X-Rays: Yes or No?

While we share your concerns about potential risks from too much exposure to radiation, x-rays [radiographs] are a necessary part of the dental health process.

Our philosophy is that x-rays should not be routine but utilized when they will contribute to diagnosis or treatment of oral disease. Of course, we will cover you with appropriate body shielding prior to taking any x-rays.

Radiographs allow us to see and interpret signs of disease or potential problems that are not visible through direct observation. X-rays can be used to discover abscesses [pus-pocket], cysts, and/or tumors. They help us locate impacted, unerupted or extra teeth or determine congenitally missing teeth. Radiographs can demonstrate the presence or degree of periodontal [gum] disease. They can pinpoint the location and severity of cavities that are not visible to the naked eye. Basically, radiographs provide us with a view of the underlying structure and condition of your teeth, soft tissue and bone. Foregoing x-rays could result in an inaccurate diagnosis or incomplete treatment.

Usually, new adult patients will be given a full series of x-rays that will serve as a frame of reference for future changes or problems. The time frame between [6-18 months], type and number of follow-up x-rays will be determined by our assessment of your individual needs and the condition of your mouth. Growth and development are additional factors taken into account with young children. Certain situations such as root canal treatment necessitate several x-rays as part of the procedure. Patient with periodontal disease or implants will require radiographs at specific intervals to monitor their condition. As we are sensitive to your concerns, our office continues to keep abreast of ongoing radiological advances, and we utilize techniques and x-ray films that will minimize your exposure and maximize your excellent oral health.