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Children Check-ups Throughout Their Ages – Part 7 – 18 years old – Teeth Grinding

May 3, 2021

18 years is magic age of being an adult! It’s also a time when changes occur. Not only as a person, but more freedoms are allowed by society such as drinking – yeah! and voting – OK?

However some people start to grind their teeth. Is it stress? Yes it can be. However, sometimes is a change in diet. Really?

A Queensland dentist noted many young adults showing extreme wear of their teeth over a short period of time. Why is this happening? Are they stressed out? Maybe. He also noted the colour of the enamel looked whiter indicating the crystal like appearance of the enamel changing. Whiteness indicates the calcium is being lost and the enamel becomes softer and less protective of the underlying tooth structure.

What is going on? Why are these people losing tooth structure and grinding their teeth so much that some parts of the enamel are worn through that the next layer of the tooth called the dentine is exposed. The dentine is yellow/brown in colour and is not meant to be exposed. This causes sensitivity and increases the risk of decay. It also wears more quickly and craters start to form on the biting surface. This is a problem as the dentine supports the enamel by enabling it to bend. Without that support, the enamel splinters and chips off. In some cases the tooth fractures.

The person’s mouth is prematurely ageing!

Eventually the culprit was found. High caffeine soft drinks are also high in sugar and acid. An example of this is Red Bull soft drinks. The caffeine dries the mouth and the acid softens the tooth and the sugar reduces the acid reduction capacity of the saliva.

Red Bull Energy drink - Caffeine, Sugar, and Acid

Basically the tooth is becoming soft. The saliva has calcium in a form that replaces any calcium being lost from the surface of the enamel. As the tooth softens it is easier to wear and it becomes a play thing of the jaw as the bite changes with the wear. Sensitivity becomes a major problem together with eventual jaw joint issues. Also cracked teeth and increase means the mouth is becoming a hostile environment to the teeth.

Exposed dentine near blue ink mark and underlying yellow dentine being seen through worn tooth

Another cause of soften of enamel at this age is the sport drink. Sports drinks are highly acidic and many people allow the drink to just sit in their mouths. This causes the surface of the teeth to dissolve away for good. The protective enamel layer thins out and eventually the teeth look yellow. These drinks also soften the normally hard wearing enamel so over time it literally wears away and can also leads to sensitivity as the next layer of the tooth (the dentine is exposed). This is called erosion of the tooth.

Sports drinks cause tooth erosion

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Next week

Children Check-ups Throughout Their Ages – Part 8 – 18 years old – Teeth Grinding - Treatment