Bruxism In Children: Is It Influenced By Screen Time And Sugar?

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Bruxism In Children: Is It Influenced By Screen Time And Sugar?

  1. Home
  2. Dental Articles
  3. Children’s Dentistry Articles
  4. Bruxism In Children: Is It Influenced By Screen Time And Sugar?
Bruxism in children is it influenced by screen time and sugar In Sunbury, Gisborne & Diggers Rest In Sunbury Dental House

‘Bruxism’ is an ominous sounding term in my view. Something about it grates on me and suggests inhuman elements. It reminds me of that horror film The Fly, which was originally made with Vincent Price and remade with Jeff Goldblum in the lead role. Perhaps the real horrific qualities are what is happening to our children in this digital age. Is bruxism in children influenced by screen time, sugar, or both? The two insidious bedfellows found so prevalently in the lives of our kids today.

“In 1931 Bertrand Frohman, MD created the term bruxism, which comes from the Greek expression “brychien odontas.” Sigmund Freud, scholar and psychiatrist, also had a theory concerning bruxing in the oral cavity. He claimed it to be a prime significance in the psychosexual development and behavior of the individual. Between 1966 and 2007 research and treatment were focused on occlusal adjustments and oral splints. During the 1960s, a periodontist, Sigurd Peder, DDS, PhD, promoted the theory that occlusal factors were responsible for bruxism. While therapy centered on the removal of occlusal interference remained unsatisfactory, behavioral approaches in research also declined during 1966-1986.”
Dental Care: History of Bruxism

Bruxism is from the Greek meaning to gnash or grind the teeth – how evocative is that for the imagination! Children gnashing and grinding their teeth asleep in bed – a scene from a horror movie for sure. The overstimulation of sensitive minds and bodies via chemical and sensory means. If we needed any more proof of how overloaded our culture is from out of control technology here it is in living technicolour, as witnessed by parents and its consequences bore witness by children’s dentists.

Bruxism in children is it influenced by screen time and sugar In Sunbury, Gisborne & Diggers Rest In Sunbury Dental House

Screen Time Stress & Overstimulation In Bruxism

Stress is acknowledged as a very real cause of bruxism in adults. You can see it in your mind’s eye now, the overwhelmed psyche performing involuntary acts in its sleep – the relentless grinding of teeth in a bid to release the pent up pressure within. Reframe this image now with a young child in picture, all wound up inside via the chemical poison of sugar and a subconscious attempting to process stuff beamed into the child’s mind from too much and/or inappropriate screen time imagery. It is a sick world we sometimes reside in. Is it any wonder that so many kids end up damaged and on the wrong side of the law. Economics rules the roost and many parents work too many hours to get ahead and pay the bills. The neglect of families and the abdication of basic responsibilities of parenting are legion in the 21C. In too many instances the focus is on paying off a mortgage to the detriment of being there in the lives of their children.

Bruxism & The Endless Economic Grind in the 21C

“Sleep bruxism (SB) is a masticatory muscle activity during sleep, characterized as rhythmic or non-rhythmic and is not a movement disorder or a sleep disorder in otherwise healthy individuals. It is present in 3–40% of children worldwide.”
– Claudia Restrepo, Adriana Santamaría, Rubén Manrique, Sleep bruxism in children: relationship with screen-time and sugar consumption, Sleep Medicine: X, Volume 3, 2021, 100035

The trouble with technology is that it moves us ever further away from the basic human requirements for love and physical contact. This parallel digital universe promises to replace the tactile mammalian realm. It disassociates us from touch, smell, and taste. Three of the primary senses are made obsolete. The high tech digital world is fast, too fast for something as backward as physical contact like a cuddle. It allows us to get more stuff done – to cover more virtual ground. Very soon parents are communicating with their kids via SMS. How special is that?

“Consumption of added sugar and excessive screen-time is increasing worldwide and is associated with sleeping and behavior disorders, which are related with possible Sleep Bruxism (SB) in children. The regulation of SB is mainly centrally, which means that even when SB is not a pathology or a disorder itself, it could be a possible alarm or symptom of health conditions or habits disturbing the central nervous system. Specifically, polymorphisms in DRD2 relate with bruxism phenotypes in children is a genetic variation in the dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2) that may alter dopamine signaling and modify the rewarding effects of food and videogame playing.”
Science Direct

Technology As Child Minder For Better Or Worse

Little kids get plonked down in front of screens at an early age so that mum and dad can get on and work. The children are encouraged to bond with speciality kid’s TV shows. Sugary treats can be used to sweeten the deal. The consolation prize of not getting mummy’s attention or daddy’s attention and having to settle for a digital rendition of a fantasy family cartoon is sometimes made more palatable with candy or cookies. This is the modern world we live in today, with ever greater demands being placed on parents at work via 24/7 technology like email and mobile phones.

Children Are Not Digital

Children are not digital, no matter how much adults engage in the high tech virtual world. We all need to remind each other of our mammalian reality, especially in our formative years. The gnashing of teeth in their sleep is not a good sign for the wellbeing of their soul or their teeth. Children need to spend real tactile time with their parents. When a baby is born into existence it comes from an ancient time. Its DNA and RNA form a cellular being of remarkability. It comes from the nothingness and is miraculously given life. This is the true magic in existence. Digital technology is clever stuff but it is not real life – it pales by comparison. Human beings, perhaps, need to be reminded of this amid the hoopla of pixels and bites on screens. The mirror is just a mirror, it is not real life.

What You Can Do?

If your child is exhibiting symptomatic behaviour like bruxism take it as a sign that things are not right in their world or yours. If things are manifesting as behavioural issues in the life of your child it is probably not a problem with the child but rather with the family life you are serving up. Heed the warnings and do something about it while you still can. Neglect things further and there may well be no coming back from where you find yourself and your family. Being present in the lives of your kids is a non-negotiable really. It is the simple in your face and real contact stuff that matters in the long run. Put away the technology and rediscover real in-person interaction. Your dentist can see the warning signs in the teeth of your children. How amazing is that!

Note: All content and media on the  Sunbury Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

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