A lucky kid will never have a cavity, but cavities aren’t the only dental problems kiddos can be forced to endure. There are plenty of dental health problems little ones face, even before they’ve lost their baby teeth. Of course, it’s important to set the stage with positive habits before those permanent teeth grow in; otherwise, your child could face an uphill battle in terms of lifelong dental issues.
To help you along the way, here are some of the most common children’s dental problems we see at Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry (and what you can do to prevent them):
It’s important not to fall into the mindset that baby teeth fall out anyway. After all, the habits your child picks up in his early years will likely dictate the way he cares for his teeth as he grows older.
Tooth decay occurs when the gums and teeth are exposed to large amounts of sugars, starches and acids (think candy, cookies and soft drinks). The longer these materials sit in your kid’s mouth, the more likely they are to adhere to the surface of the enamel and gum line, causing plaque buildup that can eat away at the protective exterior structure of the tooth.
To Prevent This Problem: Ensure your child brushes after every snack and meal. Regular brushing sends the bad sugars away so your child’s teeth have a clean landscape that’s free and clear of sugary debris.
Baby-Bottle Tooth Decay
Children who suck on their baby bottles or pacifiers for extended periods of time are inviting sugars to stick to their tooth enamel. The bacteria on bottle nipples, pacifiers and sippy cups — when combined with the bacteria that’s naturally produced by the mouth — can cause serious tooth decay.
To Prevent This Problem: Feed your baby when she’s hungry, and take away the bottle as soon as she’s finished or fallen asleep. Don’t let her carry around bottles filled with sugary substances she can suck on; instead, fill before-bed bottles with water.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
It’s never too early to teach your child how to properly care for his oral health. Bacteria on the tongue, teeth and gums is the number-one reason people have bad breath.
To Prevent This Problem: Instill a regimen of clean breath from infancy. When your child is a baby, you can wipe his gums with a clean cloth to remove bad bacteria. As he gets older, make toothbrushing a fun experience by incorporating songs or dances, and be sure to adhere to a regular schedule.
It’s natural for babies to suck their thumbs. But as they grow, kids often need help breaking the habit. Thumb-sucking can lead to problems with tooth alignment, which can ultimately result in expensive orthodontia. Children who suck their thumbs past the age of five may experience misalignment of the jaws or inordinate formation of the roof of the mouth, which can cause speech impediments.
To Prevent This Problem: Use positive reinforcement while your child is awake to remove the comfort of the thumb-sucking habit. While she’s sleeping, simply remove her thumb from her mouth gently. Eventually, your kiddo should learn to cope without her thumb or fingers.
Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry specializes in children’s dentistry. Whether your child simply needs a regular cleaning, or if you’re concerned about habits that could lead to dental problems down the road, we’re here to help. We invite you to schedule an initial consultation with our dental team today!