Children’s Dentists: Is Sleep Bruxism Influenced By Screen Time And Sugar?

Children’s Dentists Is Sleep Bruxism Influenced By Screen Time And Sugar? - Brisbane, Carina - Carina Gardens Dental
The hardest job in the world is being a parent.

If you consult non-Doctoral Degree, pseudo Professor Google about what the hardest job in the world is, parenting doesn’t even make the top 10. It doesn’t even make the grade of Alaskan crabbers, air traffic controllers, surgeons, military personnel, firefighters, social workers, astronauts, special Ed teachers and miners.

The fact that to be a parent means that you have to have the skill sets of an air traffic controller, a surgeon, military personnel, a firefighter, social worker, astronaut, special Ed teacher and a miner has been completely overlooked.

What, not an astronaut? Having a kid blows you out of this world and onto another planet: it counts. Not a miner? Try getting the truth from a three-year-old, a splinter from the heel of anyone under 10, and truly nailing what motivates your teenager.

Nit removal on a cold afternoon is Alaskan crabbing without being paid an hourly rate.

As a consequence of marine heat waves and 11 billion dead snow crabs, as of December 2022 it’s also a job that no longer exists.

The warmer water temperature meant starvation, and other species taking advantage. The Pacific cod moved into what would normally be a very frigid crab habitat, and feasted.

Without doubt, it’s hard being a parent. Being a children’s dentist didn’t make that list either. Maybe it’s not the list that should be questioned but rather its definition of ‘hard’.

It’s possibly harder, now, to be a child; given that this is the type of disastrous world they’re having to grow up in. Put any spin you like on that, but from the ‘50s and through to the ‘90s the only spin kids needed were the wheels on their bikes or matchbox cars, getting a yo-yo to walk the dog, nabbing the whirlygig from the Kellogg’s Rice Bubbles pack and Spin Fighter wins.

Children’s Dentists Is Sleep Bruxism Influenced By Screen Time And Sugar? - In Brisbane, Carina - Carina Gardens Dental
Over those forty years, kid life was pretty simple.

Basic teeth issues were not much more than cavities, overcrowding and making sure the Tooth Fairy came. Unless you lived in the US or Canada, where baby teeth were exchanged for buttons and cards after they were “donated to science.”

‘Operation Tooth’ was a longitudinal study to find possible links between cancer rates and the fallout of the first atomic bomb at the White Sands Proving Ground in 1945, as well as the hundreds of nuclear tests conducted by the United States and the USSR up until 1963.

Being a kid becomes less simple when competition starts between the Tooth Fairy, and proving the presence or not of strontium-90.

The early results of the study were concerning enough at the time to influence the Partial Test Ban Treaty negotiations President John F. Kennedy was making between the US, Soviet Union and Britain. Ratified in early October 1963, it prohibited nuclear weapons testing or other nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, underwater or in outer space.

Not testing underground came later – in 1996 – and 175 countries agreed with it all; but with North Korea conducting tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, 2016 and 2017 it seems that tiger has lost quite a few of its teeth.

Certainly that ever-controversial mascot, Tony the Tiger of ‘Frosties’ sugar-laden breakfast cereal fame, didn’t have any. Not so Grrrreat! when you’re a tiger and what’s grrreat when you’re a kid is a toothless tiger making important nutritional decisions for you. Froot loopy toucans named Sam can too. As can a predominantly red-and-yellow clown because he’s not a cigarette – although equally dangerous to health and just as addictive.

Also, there’s pie involved. It’s not humble. How a meal can be happy remains perennially unanswered.

One of the remaining simple joys of being a kid is the superpower bestowed upon you of the pestering kind.

Global food companies use it to the tune of billions of dollars worldwide, and together there is a shield of steel against truth over taste and health over hype, where the carrots are swept aside for the stix: cheese & onion, ketchup, spicy corn or chicken.

It is the nuclear weapon against parents and kids know how to use it.

If it’s some kind of social intelligence, it’s gotten more potent over time: it’s worked better since the 1990s than it ever did in the decades before.

Maybe that’s to make up for the kids who toiled 12-hour shifts in the 18th and 19th centuries. Or in the eleven countries that still do that now.

It’s tough enough being a kid in a developed country. Unimaginable, being one where it’s not.

No wonder they grind their teeth. Whether it’s the result of too much sugar, too much screen time or not enough food and safety, all over the world kids are stressed.

Richard Linklater’s mind-warping 2001 animated dreamscape, ‘Waking Life’ is a reflection of the human experience that meshes and merges reality and the bizarre with none of it meaningless. Actuality is an abstraction.

Maybe it holds lessons for us in this era of discomfort and dismay where children have first world and third world and future world problems.

According to English author and parapsychologist Rupert Sheldrake, morphic resonance exists. Linklater created isolated and yet ostensibly interrelated peculiarities in which his characters induce us to contemplate this cerebral coincidence; whether there’s the possibility or probability of universal telepathy where experience is shared.

August 1991’s issue of Noetic Sciences Bulletin says it’s so by publishing Monica England’s research on crossword puzzles. Essentially, she found that crossword puzzles yet to be seen were more easily solved once they had been published in a newspaper and completed by other large groups of people.

It’s research that suggests the existence of a collective consciousness.

If so, it offers explanation for the seemingly spontaneous global innovations in science and technology. You know the ones – the synchronistic questions or results appearing, independent of each other.

With their open minds, are children more susceptible to that? Is it why they’re all so attuned to so much of the same, above and beyond their immediate circle of influence? Is their sleep bruxism like a shared childhood virus?

Or could it be the result of social media, the internet at large, pester power and parenting habits?

Worldwide, sleep bruxism in children is on the increase, correlated with excessive screen time and sugar consumption.

Teeth grinding during sleep is a centrally regulated process that deals with dopamine – a major part of the physiological and cognitive reward system of pleasure, motivation and learning.

Both sugar, and the blue light of computer screens alter the rhythm and process of this neurotransmitter.

It’s common for parents and carers to routinely indulge a child with an excess of sugary and sweetened ultra-processed foods, as well as intensive and often unmonitored screen time.

It’s part of the value system that we’ve shifted toward instant gratification and immediate return.

That simple answer to the complex questions of why adults are often chronically exhausted and generally unhappy; and why children are prone to habitually display the behaviours of dissatisfaction, disrespect and entitled defiance.

Linking to Linklater, speaking with Linklater, the protagonist asks how the hell he’s supposed to get out of this “infinite dream”. There’s a momentary pause. “If you can wake up, you should. Because, you know, someday you won’t be able to.”

Perhaps that’s the thing.

Perhaps there’ll come the day when we simply stop dreaming.

Perhaps, after that weird gap of no space between adolescence and brutal adulthood, the unreal life we cobble together completely, simultaneously and hazily, embraces and disgraces our salient, yet ephemeral existence.

Maybe we’re to keep dreaming while we still can.

It’s what children do. What children should be doing.

It’s part of their incredible skill set that gets taken and tainted by addictions to screens and sugars and sulking ‘til they get what they want. Since they don’t know what that is, they just want the wanting until their teeth ache from grinding and poor sleep.

It’s the wrong kid part to be so filled with endlessness.

In ‘Waking Life’ we are reminded that, “The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. Because, if you can do that, you can do anything.”


Like being the adult that changes their own unuseful screen habits. The parent that junks the junk food pick-me-ups you know just bring you down. Break the circuitry of convenience – be it food, behaviour or responsiveness – anything that shows your child that the real answer to being overwhelmed is curiosity itself.

It’s a tough job being responsible for a child. It’s a tough gig being a tooth-grinding kid with a parent who’s not so tough on how long you’re spending with your snack-sticky fingers all over your tablet, computer or phone.

Google’s omission of parenting in its list of hardest jobs in the world is more than gobsmacking in view of the page’s final sentence:

“These demanding jobs inspire us to push harder in our daily lives and remind us of our potential to overcome challenges, make sacrifices and achieve remarkable feats.”

If that’s not parenting, Google needs to Google it.


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The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional personal diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental or medical condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read or seen on the Site.


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