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Should You Worry If Your Child Grinds Their Teeth?

Teeth grinding, formally known as bruxism, is more common in children than most parents realize. Bruxism involves grinding, clenching, or gnashing of the teeth during the night, often leading to headaches, earaches, facial pain, jaw problems, and tooth damage. Two out of every ten children experience bruxism sometime in their lives.

Although bruxism does not have a clear cause, bruxism in children usually stems from a misaligned bite, anxiety, stress, hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, inner ear pressure, or a reaction to common medications. Diagnosing bruxism with your child can be difficult, as the warning symptoms can often be mistaken as other minor health issues. If you think your child may be suffering from bruxism, be sure to monitor his or her behavior while he or she is sleeping.

Do you see faint movement or hear strange noises coming from your child’s mouth at night? Have you noticed any wear, tear, or unusual “shortening” of your child’s smile? Has your child complained of morning headaches, a sore jaw, or pain associated with chewing food? Whether your child’s smile consists of primary teeth, permanent teeth, or a mix of the two, it is important to identify bruxism, as it can lead to chipping and wearing of the enamel.

The good news? Most children outgrow bruxism, and the majority of pediatric cases do not require treatment. Grinding often decreases between ages 6-9, completely disappearing by age 12. However, it never hurts to schedule a consultation to discuss your child’s symptoms. If your child’s smile is visibly deteriorating from bruxism, a mouth guard may be prescribed by your dentist.

How to Deal with Your Child’s Class II, Division 2 Bite

Class II, Division 2 Malocclusion occurs when your child’s upper anterior teeth are tilted back toward his or her mouth, causing the lower jaw to be pushed back in a retruded positon. While many patients suffer from Class II, Division 2 Malocclusion, these cases are easily treatable! Once your child’s smile has been classified as Class II, Division 2 Malocclusion, treatment is considered if the “overjet,” or the amount of space the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth, is greater than 6mm. Once the overjet is determined, the goal is then to correct the Class II position to a Class I position, which is the state of an ideal smile.

A large percentage of patients with Class II, Division 2 Malocclusion suffer from resulting medical conditions, including TMJ and breathing disorders. This type of malocclusion also increases your child’s risk of trauma to his or her upper incisors, especially if his or her lips do not sufficiently protect his or her smile. Correcting malocclusion is necessary for both aesthetic and medical reasons. Not only will your child be able to speak, breathe, and eat easier, but his or her facial profile will be greatly enhanced, including a better nose proportion, fuller lips, and a broader smile.

Prior to treating Class II, Division 2 Malocclusion, the dental arches must be the appropriate size and shape. Once the dental arches are accurately developed, the upper anterior teeth will be adjusted to their ideal positions. This adjustment of the upper anterior teeth increases the “overjet,” because the lower jaw is still in a retruded position. Then, the lower jaw is corrected by pulling it forward. This adjustment to the lower jaw can be done surgically or by using a simple mouth appliance. Once the jaw positioning is fixed, your child’s smile can then be straightened through conventional orthodontics.

Parents, as you consider treating your child’s Class II Division 2 Bite, here are some questions you may be asking and some input that may help:

  • Should I wait or treat this now? Although early Class II, Division 2 Malocclusion treatment is typically more costly, it can result in a 40% less chance of trauma to your child’s upper incisors. Early treatments can also increase both the attractiveness of the facial profile and overall self-esteem.
  • How much of an impact will a functional appliance have on my child’s development? Functional appliances are extremely effective when correcting Class II incisal relationships, they can have a significant impact on your child’s health by correcting breathing issues, and they can alter facial feature development, but they won’t alter actual skeletal patterns to a meaningful degree. They won’t change what’s been pre-determined by your child’s genetics
  • Finally – if you’re wondering whether to get your child a fixed appliance or a removable appliance? There is much better patient cooperation with a fixed appliance, however there is no difference in the treatment results between fixed appliances and removable appliances. They both work. So consider your child when making this decision.

If you still have questions, please feel free to leave us a comment below…and if you’re considering this, make an appointment and talk to a local dental professional who is experienced in all aspects of treating this.

Does My Child Really Need Dental Arch Expansion?

Arch expansion, or the expansion of the upper jaw, is a form of orthodontic treatment often used to correct a narrow upper arch or crowded upper teeth. Expanding the upper jaw is a potential first step in early orthodontics – if your child’s smile is demonstrating a constructed maxillary arch, he or she will need orthopedic forces to expand the maxilla. By expanding your child’s arch, or the circumference of his or her palate, his or her smile will have more space for permanent teeth to move and grow.

The best age for arch expansion patients is, ideally, as young as possible, but no earlier than the age of five. Upper jaw expansion is most successful when it is performed in children under the age of sixteen, because your child’s baby teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth between the ages of six and thirteen.

Benefits of Arch Expansion

  • Correction of Cross Bites – If your child’s upper teeth actually fit inside his or her lower teeth, he or she may have a cross bite. A cross bite can result in asymmetrical growth of the lower jaw, which can lead to facial asymmetry.
  • Reduction of Overcrowding – Once his or her upper arch is expanded, your child’s smile will have more room to accommodate the development of teeth.
  • Improvement in Breathing Abilities – Does your child experience difficulty breathing through his or her nose? This may be the issue! In fact, dental arch expansion can develop the airway and influence breathing in a number of positive ways, including lessening a patient’s risk of developing sleep apnea and treating existing sleeping and breathing disorders. Continuous mouth-breathing can result in unhealthy inhalation of unfiltered bacteria, dry mouth, and potential halitosis.

Don’t hesitate to look into improving your child’s airway and dental issues!

The Processes of Arch Expansion

  • Fixed Appliance – A fixed appliance, also referred to as a Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE), sits in the top of your child’s mouth at all times. It is traditionally attached to the molars with metal rings, but some appliances may be removable in certain cases. This appliance stretches the bone and cartilage of the palate, forcing it to expand. The appliance comes with a “key” that can be used to tighten the device, therefore, placing outward pressure on the two halves of your child’s upper jaw. Your dentist will recommend a set tightening schedule, and you can simply tighten your child’s RPE in the comfort of your own home on a daily basis. Slowly but surely, your child’s upper jaw will expand.
  • Removable Appliances – Similar to a fixed appliance, removable appliances use slow, gentle pressures to mold your child’s arch form, moving teeth and allowing new bone to grow. Some options for removable appliances include OcclusoGuards, positioners, Bionators, Myobrase, Schwartz plates, and sagittal appliances.


  • Does it hurt?
    • There may be some initial discomfort once the application is placed, but typically, no. Patients report a feeling of pressure on the teeth, roof of the mouth, behind the nose, and even between the eyes, but no pain. This pressure fades away within minutes of adjusting the application.
  • How can I help my child through the process?
    • To make the first couple of days more comfortable for your child, you may want to find some fun foods that do not require a ton of chewing. This can include yogurt, pudding, mashed potatoes, ice cream, etc. A day or two after the device is placed, eating should feel normal again. Because food can be easily trapped in the device, be sure to encourage and monitor your child’s oral hygiene regimen. Always make sure your child’s application is clean. Guide your child to stay away from sticky foods, like jelly beans or caramel.
  • How long does my child have to wear the device?  
    • An average timeframe for arch expansion is 6-9 months.
  • How is the device fastened to my child’s mouth?
    • Expanders are typically glued or bonded to your child’s teeth. There are removable expanders, however, fixed ones have the advantage of never being lost or forgotten.
  • Is the device noticeable?
    • Outwardly, no. When the device is initially placed, your child may produce more saliva and have a harder time speaking and eating than usual. After a few days, these symptoms should subside.

Your child’s smile depends on his or her “big kid teeth” fitting into a little mouth! By aligning the upper and lower jaws to meet properly, your child’s arch will have plenty of room for tooth growth.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Easter Candy

We hope all of you had a wonderful Easter!

Kids eating chocolate rabbit on Easter egg huntEverybody knows Easter is a holiday filled with sweet, sweet treats. Easter candy is loaded with sugar, which is obviously not a great recipe toward managing your child’s oral health. Don’t let us fool you – our team loves our desserts – in moderation! Too much of a sugary treat can be detrimental to your little one’s teeth. As your child digs through his or her Easter basket, consider these different types of candy and how they can affect your child’s smile!

1.) The Sticky Sweets

However melt-in-your-mouth-fantastic these candies may be, don’t over-indulge! These caramels, taffies and gummies can cling to your child’s teeth for hours, hiding in hard-to-reach crevices and growing bacteria. Bacteria in our mouths feed off of sugar to create acidic reactions, so when sticky sweets sit between our teeth for long periods of time, acids begin to damage our enamel.

2.) The Rock-Hard Candies

Lollipops and other hard candy take a while to eat, exposing your child’s teeth to sugar for an extended amount of time. The longer his or her teeth are exposed to sugars, the more chances there are for decay and cavities. In addition to acidic damage, rock-hard candies can also break your kid’s teeth! Ouch!

3.) The Sour Stuff

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the most acidic of them all? That’s right – sour treats, although a candy classic, contain an incredible amount of harmful acids. If your child’s enamel didn’t suffer from the sticky sweets, these pucker-inducing candies should do the trick!

Believe it or not, the healthiest Easter candy for your child’s smile is – drumroll, please – chocolate! In moderation, chocolate and other sugar-free treats are a few great ways to give your child some healthier alternatives to Easter candy. Candies containing nuts, if your child is not allergic, can be a great way to break up the sugary consistency of these treats and dark chocolate contains antioxidants that can actually help with the effects of tooth decay.

Remind your children to always brush and floss after indulging in their Easter candy!

Your Teen and Invisalign: a Smile That Will Last a Lifetime

Between juggling classes, hormones and extracurricular activities, your teen doesn’t have time to worry about straightening his or her smile. When it comes to wearing metal braces, an overwhelming 92% of teenagers feel orthodontic treatment would prevent them from fitting in with their peers.

We understand metal braces may not be an option your teen is willing to consider right now – and younger patients finally have an orthodontic treatment option for a more convenient, comfortable smile…

A brand new smile can make a world of a difference, and unlike traditional braces, Invisalign® aligners are virtually invisible. Manufactured from a smooth, clear plastic, this orthodontic option can be removed at your teen’s convenience to eat, drink, brush or floss. These alignment trays allow patients to easily maintain oral hygiene, eliminate irritating brackets or wires and eat whatever they’d like, all while creating a brand new smile.

Correcting teeth alignment is important, not just cosmetic wise, but for overall health as well, including:

  • Aligned jaw positioning
  • Easier maintenance care (brushing, flossing, etc.)
  • Lower risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay
  • Higher self-esteem

Wearing the comfortable, customized aligners will gradually shift your teen’s teeth into their correct position.  Invisalign offers the best of both worlds: comfortable, efficient straightening with an essentially invisible appearance.

The Invisalign® Treatment Process

  • Initially, your teen will have a consultation to discuss if Invisalign is right for him or her and address any questions or concerns you and your teen may have about the treatment, insurance or costs
  • Once your teen is ready to proceed, x-rays and impressions are administered to create an individual treatment plan – including the position of your teen’s teeth and how they will align with treatment
  • Using your teen’s treatment plan, clear aligners are created customized to your teen’s teeth. He or she will simply wear them every day, taking them out to eat, brush and floss
  • Your teen will advance in the treatment by switching out aligners every two weeks for a fresh set. Your teen will also meet with his or her dentist every six weeks or so to examine his or her progress
  • Full treatment usually lasts around six months to one year for teens

Advantages of Invisalign®

  • Clear aligners are virtually invisible as opposed to metal brackets and wires
  • Aligners are customized to fit your teeth, eliminating discomfort and irritation
  • Aligners are conveniently removable for brushing or cleaning
  • No food restrictions
  • Helps in avoiding periodontal disease, which can stem from misaligned teeth
  • Can alleviate issues such as bite problems, mouth sores and speaking/chewing difficulties

Give your teen the gift that keeps on giving – a brand new smile that will last a lifetime.

What Dental X-rays Does My Child Need? Are They Safe?

girl with dentist and x-raysDental x-rays are necessary for determining the present status of a patient’s oral health, along with identifying a patient-specific treatment plan. A request for x-rays can depend on several different factors, including how much dental work has been previously done, the current condition of that dental work, dental hygiene, a patient’s age, a patient’s risk for disease, and any signs or symptoms of dental decay or gum disease. For example, children may need x-rays more often than adults, because their teeth and jaws are continually developing and are more likely to be affected by tooth decay. Each intraoral x-ray shows several teeth, from the upper surface to the supporting bone. Dentists can order multiple images in order to learn more about a specific area of concern.

Dental x-rays are safe. However, they do require extremely low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very minimal. In other words, any level of radiation poses a potential risk to patients. For this reason, team members want to minimize a patient’s exposure as much as possible.

In most dental offices, every precaution is taken to ensure radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonably Achievable, also known as following the ALARA principle. Thanks to advanced dental technology, dental teams operate dental x-ray tools and utilize techniques designed to limit your body’s exposure to radiation. A leaded apron minimizes radiation exposure to your child’s abdomen, while a leaded thyroid collar protects the thyroid from radiation.

Here are 5 different types of dental x-rays your child may need, depending on his or her oral health:

  • Bitewing X-rays (also called cavity-detecting x-rays): These x-rays are used to view the areas between teeth that cannot be easily seen. These X-rays are needed only after the teeth in the back of the mouth are touching each other, as they show where cavities may be forming. In some children, this doesn’t happen until the first permanent molar (also called the 6-year molar) has erupted.
  • Periapical X-rays: These x-rays are used to view the entire crowns and roots of one, two or three teeth that sit next to each other. They also show the supporting bone structure of the teeth, allowing the dentist see your child’s permanent teeth developing below the baby teeth. They are also used to look for abscesses and gum disease.
  • Panoramic X-rays: These x-rays are used to obtain a comprehensive view of all of the teeth on one film, displaying the upper and lower jaws, the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) and the sinuses above the upper teeth. They are often used if a child has hurt his or her face, has orthodontic problems, or is mentally or physically disabled. Panoramic X-rays, unlike other types, do not require a film to be put in the child’s mouth. This is helpful for children who gag easily or have small mouths. This X-ray must be exposed for 12-18 seconds, and the patient must be able to sit or stand still for that whole time.
  • Occlusal X-rays: These are used to view most of the upper or lower teeth on one film. This is useful when the dentist does not have a panoramic X-ray machine or when the child has difficulty in taking bitewing or periapical X-rays.
  • Orthodontic X-rays (also called cephalometric or lateral skull): This type of X-ray shows the head from a side view. It is used to evaluate growth of the jaws and the relationship of bones in the skull. It also helps an orthodontist make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding dental x-rays, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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