Teeth Grinding: Why Early Intervention Is Key to Long-Term Dental Health
The grinding of teeth, known in the dental world as bruxism, is a common problem that is found in people of all ages. Usually, it begins innocently enough, but it can cause tremendous dental concerns when it becomes a habit. Teeth grinding can even lead to eventual tooth, soft tissue and hard tissue disease or loss. The key is for dental professionals to diagnose and treat bruxism early, so the pattern can be broken.
Why Do Kids and Teens and Even Babies Grind Their Teeth?
Many parents want to know why their children are grinding their teeth. The underlying causes can vary widely from child to child. Researchers suggest that the following reasons typically contribute to the beginning of frequent teeth grinding:
- Teething– When babies begin to develop teeth, they must become accustomed to the feeling of having something new in their mouths. As they teethe, infants and toddlers sometimes begin to bite down on their gums to relieve the painful sensations they’re experiencing. Over time, this biting may continue, even after the teeth are fully in place and the pain has subsided.
- Anxiety– Yes, children and even babies, can feel stress! Like adults, they don’t always have healthy outlets to deal with their intense emotions, so they may begin unconsciously tensing up their jaws. This can not only lead to bruxism, but also undue tension placed upon the joint of the jaw.
- Malocclusions– This is a fancy term that means a bite is misaligned. In other words, the teeth haven’t come in straight. In an effort to make the misaligned teeth fit more comfortably, your child may be unwittingly rubbing the tops of their teeth together.
- Allergies and nasal problems– Some people believe that the underlying culprit of teeth grinding could relate to breathing issues. The suggestion is that when it’s difficult to get air, the infant, child, teen or adult bites down in a panicked state before opening his or her mouth to breathe.
There are other reasons that some patients develop a tooth grinding routine. No matter why he or she begins the habit, it’s important to stop it.
How Early Age Grinding Can Cause Dental Problems
Bruxism that is caught early will not create a lifetime of problems. This said, teeth are not invincible to constant stressors such as biting. Eventually, bruxism can lead to several problems such as:
- Enamel damage– The enamel (the outer layer of the tooth) is a protective coating that helps keep bacteria from damaging the tooth. When the enamel is slowly ground away, small, unprotected areas appear and can easily decay.
- Increased cavities– As the teeth are worn down, the door is inevitably opened to the bacteria that foster the development of cavities. More cavities mean amplified trauma to the teeth at a young age.
- Cracked teeth– Sometimes, dentists notice that children with bruxism have teeth that are beginning to crack. These cracks must be filled in before they become too large.
- Lost teeth– If teeth develop cracks that are big enough, the tooth can be damaged to the point where it either falls out or requires extraction. Even if it’s a baby tooth, if the tooth is extracted but the tooth grinding continues, the permanent adult tooth will be in danger as well.
Aside from problems directly related to the teeth themselves, bruxism can also cause pain in the jawbone. This leads to chronic soreness and headaches as well.
Work With Brit Phillips DDS Fort Worth to Stop Tooth Grinding
At Mira Vista Smiles, Dr. Brit Phillips takes a very personalized approach to tooth grinding. For example, if a patient is grinding their teeth, but otherwise has a healthy mouth, we will likely just observe rather than instantly intervene. Sometimes, bruxism goes away on its own. On the other hand, if the patient gets older and the teeth appear to be suffering, preventative therapy steps may be taken.
When we move toward prevention, we have the ability to implement high-tech, proven procedures to solve the toughest bruxism cases. Some of our treatment options include specially-created dental guards, plans for our patients to identify and replace tooth grinding habits with healthier coping mechanisms, and even dental work if the teeth are severely misaligned.
Contact Brit Phillips DDS Fort Worth today to schedule an appointment. All it takes is one check-up to determine if bruxism is an issue that we need to address.