Posts for: February, 2016
It can be alarming to be awakened in the middle of the night by a screeching, gritting sound coming from your child’s bedroom. No, it’s not a scene from a horror movie: it’s your child grinding their teeth as they sleep — a behavior so prevalent in children under eleven it’s considered normal.
That doesn’t mean, however, you should completely ignore it. While it isn’t harmful for most children, a few can encounter tooth wear, pain or trouble sleeping that calls for some form of intervention.
The causes for tooth grinding and similar habits known collectively as bruxism aren’t thoroughly understood, but in children it’s believed linked to the immaturity of the neuromuscular system that controls chewing. Some point to shifts from one stage of sleep to another — more than 80% of grinding episodes occur in lighter stages of sleep and only 5% to 10% during the deeper Rapid-Eye-Movement (REM) stage. It also seems prevalent in children who snore or have other symptoms of sleep apnea.
One primary concern is how the behavior can affect teeth, particularly through abnormal wear. The teeth, of course, make hundreds of contacts with each other every day during eating, speaking or jaw movement. If, however, the forces generated during these contacts chronically exceed normal parameters, as with bruxism, it can cause accelerated tooth wear. This can result in a higher susceptibility to tooth decay and appearance changes later in life.
If your child is exhibiting problems associated with teeth grinding, there are ways to address it. We may recommend a thin, plastic mouthguard they wear while sleeping that prevents the teeth from making solid contact with each other. We may also refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if we suspect signs of sleep apnea. And, children under severe psychological stress, which can also trigger teeth grinding, could benefit from behavioral therapy.
The good news is most grinding habits fade as children enter their teens. In the meantime, keep a watchful eye and see us if you notice any indications this common habit is affecting their health and well-being.
If you would like more information on teeth grinding habits, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”
If you have one or more missing teeth, you might have noticed yourself developing problems eating, speaking or chewing. You may have even become self-conscious of the gaps in your smile. However, there is a permanent and secure way to replace your missing teeth. With help from your Morrisville, NC dentist Dr. Geetha Sripathi, you can revive your smile and replace your missing teeth with dental implants.
What are dental implants?
Unlike dentures or bridges, dental implants permanently integrate into the bone below the gum line. The implant’s fixture, the small post which integrates into the bone, replaces the tooth’s root. The implant’s abutment connects the fixture to the crown, which replaces your tooth. Implants are made to last a lifetime with proper care.
What can I expect from the dental implant procedure?
The procedure for dental implants takes part in two phases. The first phase involves a consultation with your dentist, preparation for surgery and implantation of the implant’s fixture into the bone. Before surgery, you and your dentist talk about realistic expectations for your results. The implant’s crown is customized based on molds taken of the teeth before surgery. A dental laboratory creates the crowns while your implants’ surgery sites heal. Surgery to implant the fixture into the bone requires several months of healing time. This time also allows the post to integrate into the bone, forming a solid foundation for the rest of the implant.
Phase two of the procedure happens once the surgery sites heal and successful integration has been achieved. The implant’s abutment attaches to the fixture. The abutment connects the crown to the fixture, completing the implant.
What are the advantages of dental implants?
Other forms of tooth replacement like dentures or bridges are not made to last as long as a dental implant. They also carry the chance of falling out or moving around, causing potentially embarrassing social situations. Additionally, dentures require nightly soaking when they are not in use, and scrubbed every day before putting them back in. Dental implants require the exact same care as your natural teeth: brushing, flossing and twice yearly dental examinations and cleanings.
For more information on dental implants, please contact Dr. Sripathi at Elite Smiles in Morrisville, NC. Call (919) 388-0137 to schedule your consultation for dental implants today!
Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.
“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into caviÂties. How did this happen?
Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.
While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods.Â Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.
This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”
Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:
- Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
- Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
- Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.
Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.
“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”
If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”