5 Common Dental Problems in Children and How Pediatric Dentists Can Help
When their first tooth erupts, kids are at risk for dental problems. With proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist, these issues can be prevented or caught early on.
Gingivitis is another common dental problem in children, and it can lead to gum disease if left untreated. Kids can also develop sensitive teeth and an improper bite (malocclusion).
Tooth decay is one of the most common dental problems in children. It occurs when bacteria in the mouth eat away at the teeth’s enamel, leaving holes called cavities. Cavities are painful and can lead to infection if left untreated.
Pediatric dentists focus on preventing tooth decay by teaching children good oral hygiene habits and offering fluoride treatments. They also encourage kids to eat healthy foods that are low in sugar.
Tooth decay is more prone to happen in baby teeth, so children need to have their teeth regularly cleaned by a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists can remove plaque before it builds up and prevent tooth decay in children. They can also repair any cavities with fillings.
Gum disease is a serious problem for kids, leading to bone loss and tooth loss. It is caused by a buildup of soft plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) that isn’t scrubbed away with regular brushing or flossing. This can cause gum irritation and inflammation, bleeding when brushing or flossing, swollen or puffy gums, and bad breath.
The good news is that gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, is entirely reversible with consistent oral hygiene habits and professional cleanings. If caught and treated early, a pediatric dentist can eliminate the bacteria contributing to gum disease and ensure it doesn’t progress into periodontitis, which is more severe and can lead to more serious health issues.
Do you wince when you sip a cold drink, bite into an ice cube or brush your teeth? If so, you may have sensitive teeth.
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the inner core of a tooth, known as dentin, is exposed to external stimuli like temperature changes, food, air or touch. This causes the dentin to send sensations to nerves deep within the tooth’s inner core, where they’re felt as pain.
Tooth sensitivity can also occur due to gum recession, broken or chipped teeth or worn-down fillings. In these cases, the sensitivity is usually confined to a single tooth or region of teeth. A visit to a pediatric dentist can help to alleviate tooth sensitivity by using desensitizing toothpaste and mouth guards to protect against bruxism.
Dental trauma occurs when teeth, gums or the soft tissues found in the mouth, like lips and tongue, are injured. This can occur from accidents like falls, sports injuries, or child abuse. Pediatric dentists have specialized training that prepares them to respond to these dental emergencies in infants, children and teens.
Pediatric Dentists can help by instilling healthy oral habits, providing fluoride treatments and cleanings, counseling on thumb sucking and other unhealthy behaviors and assessing and treating malocclusion (abnormal alignment of teeth or jaws) to prevent problems as your child ages. They also understand that visiting the dentist can be scary for kids, so they make every visit a positive experience with child-friendly language and a welcoming atmosphere. This helps build confidence in kids and encourages good dental health.
Misaligned teeth aren’t just embarrassing; they can also impact jaw function, speech and cause other oral health issues. The most common reason for this is genes, but it can also occur due to a small jaw, baby teeth that fall out earlier than they should or injury.
Other misalignment causes include thumb sucking, teeth grinding and extended use of pacifiers. These habits can lead to severe changes in occlusion (the way your teeth fit together), including an overbite, when your child’s upper teeth overlap their lower teeth and directly touch their gums. This can create problems like gum disease or a speech impediment like a lisp. A pediatric dentist can address these concerns before they become more serious.