Our 5 year old patient’s parents were concerned about her loud grinding at night and were asking about what to do so she’s not grinding her teeth away before the adult set comes in. While other dentists or pediatricians may say bruxism or teeth grinding is “normal” and that their child will eventually grow out of it, it is not normal and is actually a sign of an underlying airway disorder.
Teeth grinding is the body’s physiological response to an airway problem and is considered sleep disordered breathing or (SDB). With SDB, airflow is interrupted and oxygen levels drop, and the body’s response is grinding or clenching their teeth to help open up the airway. Once the teeth are ground down, this can further lead to TMJ issues down the line which can be extremely painful. The main point is to intervene with a myofunctional appliance before this even has a chance to occur.
The myofunctional appliance promotes the natural growth and development of the upper and lower jaws to promote nasal breathing, as well as expanding the airway and straightening teeth. As the jaw and airway develop, symptoms of SDB disappear. With an adequate airway, the body gets the oxygen it needs to help kids grow to their full potential.
Myofunctional appliances not only address the root cause of SDB, they simultaneously straighten your child’s teeth (no need for braces!). Appliances help expand the arch to allow for proper spacing for adult teeth to grow in, while guiding the adult teeth to grow straight. Think of this as an interceptive appliance to straighten teeth, as opposed to braces doing the work after the teeth already grew in crooked.
“I like that smile better!”
The patient was a great candidate to start wearing a myofunctional appliance to address her grinding. She looks forward to her dental appointments, and immediately points out which smile she likes better. The patient and her parents are ecstatic with her results after only 3 months.
As seen in her pictures, her upper teeth almost completely covered her bottom teeth. Her jaw was also visibly shifted back, decreasing her airway space, and causing a crease to develop above her chin.
After only 3 months, her jaw positioning and teeth positioning are ideal, the crease above her chin has disappeared, and the patient is thrilled with her new smile. Her facial development is apparent after having started treatment.
Pictures posted with permission from patient's Mom. :)
Dr. Mat and Dr. Jen will occasionally post cases or pictures from our office!