How to Stop a Child from Grinding Their Teeth at Night

Teeth grinding is something that people of all ages experience, but it tends to be particularly common in young children. Understanding how it can affect your child and what you can do as a parent to help this situation is important in finding relief. It can be a painful and uncomfortable experience for your child so finding a solution that will provide some relief is important. First, let’s get started with what teeth grinding is.

What is teeth grinding (bruxism)?

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a condition in which you grind your teeth or clench your jaw. You can unconsciously grind your teeth while you are awake or while you are sleeping at night. For children who might clench or grind their teeth, it is possible that it will go away as they get older or turn into a more severe condition in adolescence and as an adult.

What causes teeth grinding in children?

While it’s difficult to narrow down the exact cause of teeth grinding in children, there are a few different triggers for why this occurs. Some of the most common causes that are said to cause teeth grinding include:

  • Stress: Very frequently, teeth grinding can be attributed to stress in a child. Whether they are starting a new school or dealing with bullying at school, this can elicit a stress response in their bodies that causes grinding to occur.
  • Pain: In some cases, your child could be combatting pain they may be experiencing in their ear that feels like a toothache. For this reason, it can cause them to begin grinding their teeth.
  • Mis-aligned teeth: If your child’s teeth are not fully aligned yet, this can be another reason why grinding is taking place.
  • Other medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, can cause a greater likelihood for your child to develop bruxism due to certain medications they have to take.

What are the common symptoms of bruxism?

If you think your child might be grinding their teeth excessively at night, it’s important to understand and know the symptoms of bruxism so that you can actively look for them. The most common symptoms you should look out for in your child include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or staying awake during the day
  • Jaw pain
  • Headaches
  • Damage to the structure of teeth
  • Tissue damage around the gums

How can I prevent my child from grinding their teeth at night?

If you think that your child is consistently grinding their teeth, there are a few different things you can do as a parent to help this situation. Here are some of the tips we recommend to help them stop grinding:

  • Create a good bedtime routine to ensure your child is properly brushing their teeth.
  • Ensure that your child stays hydrated throughout the day and is eating a healthy diet.
  • Avoid allowing your child to have any caffeinated drinks.
  • Play comforting music or read a book with your child to help them wind down before bed.
  • Work with your child to help reduce any stress and anxiety they might be experiencing.
  • Speak with a pediatric dentist to address any concerns you have about your child’s teeth and to get on track with stopping bruxism.

While these are just tips, it’s best to speak with your child’s dentist to get a proper diagnosis and find a solution for teeth grinding in your child. It’s likely that their dentist might recommend a nightguard to wear during sleep or other types of mouthguards that will help reduce the harmful effects grinding has on teeth.

Still have questions?

If you still have questions or concerns about your kid grinding their teeth, please reach out to our office and we can set you up with an appointment. With any dental concern, it’s best to get ahead of the problem before it becomes worse in older children. Contact us today at Cavanaugh Dental to schedule an appointment and put a stop to children grinding their teeth.

What is Periodontal Disease & How Can it be Reversed

Periodontal disease is a type of gum disease that targets the gums and jawbone. It is a fairly common disease with half of US adults being diagnosed at some point in their life. Luckily, it’s also very treatable and can be reversed with good oral hygiene habits. If you suspect that you might have the beginning stages of periodontal disease, it’s best to consult your dentist right away to get the proper treatment. This disease can progress quickly if left untreated which is why it’s important to seek professional dental help.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection of the gums that over time will start damaging the soft tissue of the gums and your bone structure. In the beginning stages of periodontal disease, there will be an excess buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the surface of your teeth. It constantly forms on your teeth after eating and drinking while mixing with saliva. Routine brushing and flossing will keep this plaque from building up, but if this is not done then periodontal disease can start.

What causes periodontal disease?

The main cause of this disease relates to poor oral hygiene. Specifically, it stems from an excess of bacteria that has built up around your gum tissue causing inflammation. There are many other factors involved in periodontal disease including health issues like diabetes and poor immune systems. Some of the most common symptoms and risk factors of gum disease include:

  • Tooth loss
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Swollen gum tissue
  • Sensitive gums and teeth
  • Smoking
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing

How to reverse periodontal disease

There are a few different ways that you can get your oral health back on track and reverse periodontal disease. While it’s a common disease, it’s also a very treatable disease. Reversing gum disease first involves getting the infection under control and then taking preventative measures to begin the reverse process. Here are some of the things you can do to reverse periodontal disease.

1. Plaque removal 

During regular dental visits, your hygienist should be removing any plaque from your teeth. Since plaque is one of the ways excess bacteria can build up on your teeth, it’s best to have any and all plaque removed from your teeth. This is one of the ways you can help prevent or reverse periodontal disease.

2. Scaling and root planing

One of the most common treatments for helping your periodontal disease is through treatment of scaling and planing. Once bacteria have gotten under your gum line, it can be extremely hard to remove with standard methods. This process, done by a dental professional, will safely and effectively remove the built-up bacteria to stop further growth.

3. Preventative care

The best thing you can do for gum disease is to make preventative care a priority. There are a few different preventative care habits that you can implement into your daily routine. It’s recommended that you brush your teeth at least two times per day for at least two minutes at a time. Next, you should also be flossing your teeth to remove any food particles or bacteria stuck between your teeth. Last, visiting your dentist at least one time a year is important in preventative care to find any problems.

4. Surgery 

The last step to reversing periodontal disease is when antibiotics and scaling are not successful. Flap surgery is a type of surgery that is used to treat gum disease by cleaning the roots of a tooth and repairing any damage that was done to the bones. Your dentist will be able to recommend whether this is a necessary treatment for you or not.

If you are struggling with gum disease or the beginning stages of periodontal disease, we are here to help at Cavanaugh Dental. We are able to help treat your periodontal disease and give you the right tips and tools to reverse your gum disease.


The Best Way to Brush Your Teeth

While brushing your teeth may seem like a regular thing you do every single day, there is a difference between brushing your teeth properly and doing an okay job. Proper brushing techniques will help improve your overall oral health along with many other benefits like fresh breath, white teeth, and more. Sure, we all learned how to brush our teeth when we were kids, but when is the last time you’ve sat down to think about whether you’re just getting the job done or doing it right? We’ll walk you through the proper way to brush your teeth that will benefit your oral hygiene and overall health.

What you’ll need to get started

There are a few essential items that you’ll need in order to brush your teeth. The first step in making sure you’re brushing your teeth right is to be sure you are prepared with all the necessary items. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush
  • Fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash

There are a few important things to note about the items you need. Toothbrushes or toothbrush heads for electric toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 months to avoid any bacteria. Using fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association is highly recommended as it helps protect your teeth from decay.

Steps for brushing your teeth properly

The entire tooth brushing process should take about 2 minutes if you follow these steps here. Do this twice a day for the best oral hygiene results and to keep your teeth clean.

Step 1

Lightly wet your toothbrush and place a small amount (pea-sized) of toothpaste on the bristles of the toothbrush.

Step 2

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to begin brushing. The most common mistake many people will make is brushing up and down rather than in circles. The best way to brush your teeth is in a circular motion so that you better reach your gums to clean them.

Step 3

Next, be sure to brush the outer and inner surfaces of your teeth including those hard-to-reach back molars. In this step, you should use a back and forth motion to avoid any irritation of your gums.

Step 4

Don’t forget your tongue! The secret to fresh breath is also cleaning and scrubbing your tongue before you decide you are done brushing your teeth. There is a lot of bacteria that can hang out on your tongue that you want to get rid of.

Step 5

Once you have completed all of these steps, now it’s time to rinse! Be sure to swish water around in your mouth to get rid of all excess toothpaste and food particles out of your mouth.

After you have completed these five steps you can move on to flossing! Be sure to get between each area of your teeth to remove any stuck particle that brushing wasn’t able to remove. This helps with fresh breath and helps to prevent getting a gum infection. Once this is done, use a mouthwash to complete the process and leave your teeth clean and your breath fresh!

Dental Milestones for Kids

There are many different milestones that come along with raising a child. In particular, there are dental milestones that should be celebrated when they happen. Dental health is extremely important to start off right as a child as it will contribute to your child’s dental health as an adult. While not all kids will experience these dental milestones at the exact same time and age, it is important that these dental milestones are achieved.  If you are a new parent, knowing these dental milestones and the general timeline of what is coming is helpful. We will walk you through the important dental milestones for kids and what to expect:

1. Teething process

When the teething process starts, as a parent you will know right away as your child will express irritability and pain as the teeth come in. This process usually begins any time before a child is 1 year old and can happen as early as around 3 months old. This process begins with the front teeth and bottom teeth coming in first followed by the molars and canines at a later time. From start to finish, your baby should have their full set of teeth by the age of two. We always recommend that as soon as you see the first tooth beginning to come in that you schedule a check up with a pediatric dentist to monitor the process and to ensure that everything is growing in properly. Not all children will immediately be comfortable at their first dentist appointment, so if your child is experiencing dental anxiety, we recommend that you help them feel at ease and we will do our best as well.

2. Thumb sucking

The act of thumb sucking is something that most children will do at some point in time. However, this can quickly turn into a long-lasting habit if parents do not take control. It is used as a coping mechanism for many kids and can help relieve some pain experienced during the teething process. This can also carry over to be a coping mechanism any time while a child is stressed out for any reason. In some extreme cases, there can be damage to the jaw and tooth structure if this habit continues for an extended period of time for children.

3. Loss of first tooth

Once your child has fully developed all of their teeth, the loss of the first tooth will eventually have to come. This typically takes place around the age of five or six years old. This is a milestone time for your child as losing the first tooth can be very exciting! This creates space for adult teeth to begin growing in place of the lost tooth. Over the course of the next few years, more and more baby teeth will begin to fall out until there is room in the mouth for all adult teeth to move in. This can be a natural process, or it can require teeth to be physically pulled from the mouth.

4. Braces

The next milestone that your child will come to will be the path of whether or not they need braces. Once the entire set of adult teeth have moved in, it is time to consult with the dentist to consider braces. The full set of teeth are usually moved in by the age of 12 years old. At this time, it is very common for teeth to be misaligned due to genetic reasons, overcrowding, or a misaligned jaw. By investing in braces at a young age, this can correct any misalignments and ensure that your child’s teeth will look good for many years to come. As always, it is best to consult with a dentist to determine if braces are right for you and how they can benefit your child.

5. Wisdom teeth

One of the last dental milestones with your child will be the growth of wisdom teeth. These teeth will develop between the ages of 16 and 24 years old. These back molars are typically not needed in today’s world, but we still have them. They can often cause overcrowding in the mouth and can cause quite severe pain until they are removed. Wisdom teeth removal surgery is a very common procedure to get these molars safely removed from your mouth.

Final thoughts

There are many different dental milestones that your child can experience however, these are the most common ones that children go through. Not all children will experience these at the exact same age, but these milestones will typically follow the same order for everyone. Instilling good dental hygiene habits as a child is crucial to their long-term health. If you have any questions about these milestones, please contact us today and we will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

Teen & Child Wisdom Teeth Extraction

Tooth extractions can be scary for everyone, but these feelings are often heightened for children and teens. Wisdom teeth removal is usually not necessary until the late teens and early adulthood, but there are situations where a child or teen would get theirs removed. This can be a nerve-wracking process for children as they are unsure what to expect from a tooth extraction, but getting them out sooner can help prevent problems in the future. This post will provide you with information about your child’s wisdom teeth removal and hopefully help make the procedure easier.

Why does my child need to remove their wisdom teeth?

During the fundamental teen years, your child will grow in many ways, wisdom teeth included. As these third molars form, they will try to make room for themselves in the jaw but more often than not the jaw is not large enough to accommodate these new teeth. When the teeth cannot break through the gums, they are considered impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a lot of pain as well as problems like cavities, crowding, gum disease, and more serious issues in some cases. Removing the impacted wisdom teeth can alleviate pain as well as prevent any issues that could be caused by leaving them.

Dentists often start to evaluate wisdom teeth removal from age 16 to 19 since it is around that age they start to grow in. It is smart however to evaluate and remove them as soon as it is possible because waiting can cause unnecessary obstacles for your child. It is common for dentists to want to just monitor the wisdom teeth if they are not causing any pain for the child, but removing them early on can be a better option.

When is it necessary for kids to get their wisdom teeth removed?

The signs and symptoms that indicate the need for a child’s wisdom tooth extraction are different for each patient. Some patients do not even realize their wisdom teeth are growing in and others experience pressure or discomfort in the jaw before the teeth are even ready to try to break through the gum. Some common symptoms and signs, however, include pain, facial swelling, swelling of the gums at the back of the jaw, and infection in the mouth. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and one of the biggest benefits of getting your child’s wisdom teeth out is being able to avoid most or all of those symptoms.

Patients that wait to get their wisdom teeth removed, because they are not bothering them, often end up getting them removed when the pain is unbearable. By getting your child’s wisdom teeth removed, they will be able to avoid an excruciating amount of pain and it can also lead to better oral health. When wisdom teeth are impacted, they are known to cause a slew of problems for patients including plaque and bacteria buildup, infection, jaw and gum disease, decay or root resorption of the second molars, and even cyst and tumor development. It may not be a necessarily urgent procedure for a child, but it is usually worth it to avoid the complications that can come with waiting.

Is it painful to have your wisdom teeth removed?

You may have heard that getting your tonsils out is easier as a child than as an adult, and the same goes for the wisdom teeth. In a study done by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, they found that children who got their wisdom teeth removed between the ages of 9 and 16 had a decreased risk for alveolar osteitis, second molar damage, and nerve involvement. They also found that patients who had their third molars removed after the age of 25 were at 1.5 times higher risk for complications.

In general, children have a shorter recovery period than adults as their bodies can adapt to change quickly. That’s not to say the surgery is completely painless, but your child should only experience mild discomfort for a couple of days. The surgeon will administer an anesthetic to help with any pain during the procedure and medication to help manage any pain after. If the pain increases or persists after a few days, contact your surgeon for help.

What should I feed my child after having wisdom teeth removed?

After your child’s wisdom teeth have been removed, the surgeon will give you post-operative instructions. These instructions will tell you all of the things your child should and should not do while the extraction site heals. Ideally, your child will lay low for a few days, limiting their activity and eating only soft foods. These foods, like applesauce and yogurt, should not require much if any chewing and should not be eaten through a straw. Following the doctor’s orders is incredibly important to prevent infection and to promote quick healthy healing.

It might be hard as a parent to decide whether or not your child is ready for wisdom tooth extraction which is why it is important to go to a dentist you trust. Your child’s dentist will be able to make recommendations based on what is best for your child’s health and answer all of your questions along the way.

Tips for Choosing the Right Dentist

When you are in the market for a new dentist, all of the options can be overwhelming and it can be hard to pick one without some guidance. There are some crucial factors to consider when it comes to picking the best dentist for your needs. Every person is different and requires different types of dental care and it is of the utmost importance to find a dentist that can accommodate your specific oral health. This article will give you some helpful tips to guide you in searching for the perfect dentist.

Ask for recommendations

There are dozens of dentists in one area and the first step in your search should be your immediate network of friends and family. Asking for recommendations from those you are close to and whose opinions you value and trust can be the simplest yet most effective way to find the right dentist. Seek out those who have a similar lifestyle to you and ask them which dentist they suggest. If you have a full family that needs dental care, ask someone you know that also has a family. If you are a full-time student, ask your school friends where they are getting dental care.

If you are new to an area or want to further your research, it is wise to check out the American Dental Association website to find practices near you.

Which dentist is most convenient for you?

Many people put off going to the dentist because it is inconvenient and life gets busy. To get yourself on top of your oral health you need to choose a dentist that is most convenient for you. As you are searching for a dentist in your area, it is smart to consider what is most important to you that will make it easier to fit your dental visits in. Maybe going to a dentist near your work or your child’s school will ensure you stick to your appointments, or ease of scheduling will work best for your busy life, or a dentist that can accommodate your entire family at once.

Do they offer hours that work with your schedule?

To go along with the convenience piece, you have to find a dentist that works with your schedule. It would not make sense to go to a dentist that is only open while you are at work because you will never go. People schedule dentist appointments in the middle of their workday but sometimes something comes up that is more important in the moment. If you are always free before work of after, find a dentist that opens early enough or stays open later. Many practices offer weekend hours or special appointments to meet you halfway in your busy life.

What qualities should you look for in a dentist?

There are some qualities that you should look for in a dentist to find the best match for you and your family. Once again, when it comes to dental care it should depend on what you need and care about. Some qualities, however, should be nonnegotiable, like trust. Going to the dentist is a scary experience for many people and is a reason why visits are often avoided. When you trust your dentist and feel comfortable going to their office it can take away the nerves and stress.

This is one reason why recommendations and asking questions from people you trust is so critical in finding the right dentist. Reading reviews on practices in the area and using your resources can give you great insight into what to expect from the dentist and their care. You want to be able to feel comfortable asking your dentist questions regarding your oral health and explaining your concerns because it will make the entire process easier.

Some other qualities that are important to consider are the cleanliness of the office, the knowledge of the entire staff, the experience and education of the dentist, and what types of services they offer. The website of the practice can give you a good look at the education and experience of your dentist, the services they offer, as well as patient reviews.

Does the dentist accept your insurance?

Practices do not usually accept every insurance provider and it can be a very frustrating aspect in searching for a new dentist. Insurance information is not always listed on a dentist’s website either and it can take a little bit of searching to figure out where you can take full advantage of your benefits. If you have narrowed down your options to four or five dentists in your area, you can give them each a quick call to see if they accept your insurance and they will be able to answer all of your questions.

Check out your insurance provider’s website to find a list of dentists that are part of their network, or search the American Dental Association website by payment options in your area.

Why do I have Bad Breath?

We have all experienced bad breath at one time or another because it is very normal. A huge struggle people have is not really being able to smell their own breath. This leads to some people being overly paranoid about bad breath when they don’t have to be and others not being conscious about it at all when they should be. If you do experience bad breath but take decently good care of yourself, it can be confusing trying to figure out what has caused it. This article is going to explain what bad breath is, a variety of causes and tips for getting rid of it.

What is halitosis?

Halitosis is the technical term for an unpleasant odor coming from the mouth, or bad breath. It can be hard to describe the experience of halitosis or exactly what it smells like as it usually depends on what the cause is. By having an open discussion with your dentist about your concerns regarding your halitosis, they can help figure out the cause and suggest solutions.

What are common causes of bad breath?

While there are a wide variety of things that can cause bad breath, here are the most common:


After eating flavorful foods like garlic and onions, you may notice your breath smelling different. Usually, the unattractive smell will disappear after brushing your teeth, but if it doesn’t there’s an interesting reason why. When digested, particles from odor-causing food enter your bloodstream and travel to your lungs. When you exhale, the odor from the food particles in your lungs can impact the way your breath smells. It is hard to avoid this type of bad breath unless you plan on never eating these foods again. Unlike other causes of halitosis, this is not one to worry about as it will go away naturally.

Oral Health

Bad breath is often a result of poor oral health. By neglecting your oral health, food particles and bacteria will get trapped in hard to reach places like between teeth, on the tongue or tonsils. When lingering food and harmful bacteria are not removed, they will not only cause bad breath but can lead to other oral issues like cavities and gum disease. Disease, decay and infections in the mouth are also culprits in foul-smelling breath.


When consuming alcohol, as well as drinks that contain caffeine, your body’s natural saliva production decreases. Saliva is essential in keeping a mouth healthy because it will naturally remove harmful bacteria and drink particles. When there is a shortage of saliva and the mouth is not being naturally cleaned, odor-causing bacteria will thrive.

Dry Mouth

This condition causes bad breath very similarly to how alcohol does – when saliva production is low, odor-causing bacteria will get to work. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is when saliva product decreases extremely or stops. This naturally occurs when you sleep, which is why “morning breath” exists but if it continues to happen while you are awake, there is another cause. Oftentimes dry mouth is caused by an issue with the salivary glands, a side effect of prescription medications or from mouth-breathing.


Tobacco products will leave a distinct, horrible odor in your mouth. Many tobacco users are unaware their breath smells because tobacco affects a user’s sense of smell. Besides bad breath, it also can stain your teeth and increase your risk of various cancers.


By partaking in ‘fad’ diets or not eating a balanced diet, you may be putting yourself at risk for bad breath. For example, since bacteria feeds off of sugar, a diet that is high in sugar will allow odor-causing bacteria to prosper. Other weird methods of eating will cause a change in your body’s metabolism or how it digests food which can cause bad breath.


Bad breath can be caused by a wide variety of illnesses including sinus, respiratory, and tonsil issues as well as kidney and liver problems. Sometimes this is the result of odor-causing bacteria, or it is a sign indicating an illness or disease.

How do you prevent and fix bad breath?

One of the best ways to prevent bad breath is by visiting your dentist regularly. Going to the dentist twice a year will allow your dentist to examine your oral health. They will be able to make recommendations and remove any buildup on your teeth to prevent decay, disease and infection that can all cause bad breath. Besides going to the dentist, good ways to prevent bad breath include taking proper care of your oral health at home, eating a balanced diet, going to the doctor when you are sick, limiting your alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. Not only will these tips help keep your breath odor-free, but they also help promote a happy, healthy lifestyle.

So how do you know if your bad breath is a cause for concern? If you are consistently noticing your smelly breath, it is time to get it checked out because it is always better to be safe than sorry. As previously mentioned, bad breath can indicate illness, disease or even that your body is unhappy with how you are treating it. Your dentist is the best person to talk to about this as they will be able to tell if the smell is caused by something they can fix or refer you to an alternative solution.

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