As a kids’ dentist in Eugene, Dr. Feldmanis strives to help protect the oral health of patients of all ages. While brushing and flossing rank as the two most important habits for protecting a child’s oral health, scheduling regular exams and cleanings with our team at Feldmanis Family Dentistry also plays a vital role. When combined, a healthy at home oral hygiene routine and regular preventative care can help to ensure a child’s oral health develops normally so they enjoy a lifetime of health teeth and gums.
However, even children who take great care of their teeth and receive regular exams can still experience some serious oral health problems, especially if they’re the victim of bullying. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, researchers have found a connection between high rates of teeth grinding – a condition clinically referred to as bruxism – and incidences of teen bullying.
High stress levels, a habitual daily chewing gum habit, and a tendency to consume hard foods such as carrots or nuts can contribute to the development of bruxism. However, anxiety ranks as the most common connection between these factors, as studies cited by the Bruxism Association claim that anxiety is diagnosed in over 70 percent of patients suffering from nightly or daily teeth grinding.
When left untreated, teeth grinding can slowly erode away the hard outer surface of our teeth known as enamel. Cracks that develop in the surface of our tooth enamel allows harmful oral bacteria the opportunity to attack the delicate center of our teeth, leading to the development of cavities, gum disease, and permanent tooth loss.
Bullying & Bruxism
In the study, researchers from Brazil recruited over 200 participants who showed no signs of teeth grinding and over 100 participates who showed early signs of the habit. The participants were asked to complete a survey with questions pertaining to verbal bullying incidents at school and about their family’s economic status. The participants ranged between the ages of 13 to 15 years old and attended various schools located throughout the country.
What the researchers discovered after examining the data was shocking – an astounding 65 percent of participants who mentioned being bullied at school suffered from teeth grinding. When contrasted with the 17 percent of bruxism participants that had not been bullied, it became clear to the researchers that the effects of being bullied went far beyond the emotional damage caused.
As many as 15 percent of kids suffer from nightly teeth grinding, according to the American Sleep Association.
At Feldmanis Family Dentistry, we encourage parents to speak with Dr. Feldmanis if they notice the symptoms or signs of bruxism. If you notice your child gnashing their teeth while sleeping, or if your child complains about morning headaches or a sore jaw you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Feldmanis. These symptoms are the most common signs that something is wrong with how a child sleeps or overall their oral health.
Protecting a Child’s Oral Health
As a kids’ dentist in Eugene, Dr. Feldmanis’ job doesn’t just stop with treatment. It also includes preventative care designed to stop oral health problems before they start. That’s why Dr. Feldmanis may ask parents questions when she notices the warning signs of nightly teeth grinding. The most obvious may include jaw popping or clicking, advanced wear of your child’s teeth, or misalignment of the jaw.
If your child suffers from bruxism, you may want to consider asking them about daily habits or problems they may be experiencing at school in order to find the most likely cause of their stress. Bullying victims are often helped when they can reach out to an adult they trust for advice and solace. This also provides parents an opportunity to reach out to a child’s school and help put an end to bullying behaviors.
Empathy can go a long way when trying to help a child with dealing stress and unhealthy habits like teeth grinding. Dr. Feldmanis strives to build a trustworthy rapport with all of her patients so she can better treat stress related issues and treat bruxism with a few caring questions.