As the parents of young children, it’s important to be aware of the potential health problems they could face. Part of this includes problems that can affect their oral health. To help you be more prepared, here is a quick guide to some of the most common dental problems that children face or develop. By knowing the signs of the problems, you can better work with your pediatric dentist to find a quick solution.
Baby Tooth Decay
Baby tooth decay is usually a result of your baby’s tooth having too much contact with sugar, such as the sugars found in fruit juice, milk, and formula. This decay causes pain and discomfort in your baby’s mouth and can have a potentially negative impact on the proper growth of his permanent teeth. You can help avoid baby tooth decay by limiting the amount of contact that your baby’s mouth has with sugary substances. Never dip his pacifier in sugar, honey, or other sugary liquids, and if you try to calm a child with a bottle outside of his normal feeding time, fill it with water.
Thumb sucking is a perfectly normal action that children do in order to feel secure and find comfort. Thumb sucking in the earliest years is not a huge problem, but as your child’s permanent teeth begin to appear, thumb sucking can negatively affect his alignment, and can even cause the jaw and roof of his mouth to become malformed. If your child continues to suck his thumb past the age of 5, consult your pediatric dentist for ways to end the habit.
Lip sucking is when your child repeatedly bites his lower lip, holding it beneath his upper front teeth. It can often occur in tandem with thumb sucking and can result in your child having an overbite. If you notice your child sucking their bottom lip, talk to your pediatric dentist to help find a way to end the habit.
Tongue thrusting is when your child thrusts his tongue against the top of his teeth before swallowing. This pressure against the front teeth can push them out of alignment, which can lead to an overbite and even speech impediments. While a common problem, it is one that needs to be addressed with a pediatric dentist and potentially a speech pathologist, who can help retrain your child’s swallowing pattern.
Early Tooth Loss
Early tooth loss is when your child’s baby tooth falls out before the permanent tooth is ready to come in. This is usually the result of baby tooth decay, when your child’s jaw is too small to hold all the teeth, or when an accident occurs that results in a tooth being knocked out. When the baby tooth comes out before the permanent tooth is ready to grow in, this can cause the rest of the teeth to tip and shift, resulting in other teeth coming in improperly and the overall alignment being messed up. If a tooth comes out early, your pediatric dentist can put in a space maintainer, which effectively holds open the space of the missing tooth until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt.