Ensuring your children’s dental care is an integral part of taking care of their overall physiological health. In the realm of dental health, the concept that prevention is better than cure is slowly gaining precedence.
Rather than waiting until your child faces some severe issue, it’s better to get regular checkups done with your dentist, just as you do with your pediatrician. Thankfully, nowadays, parents like you are more aware of the dental problems in children and understand that their teeth are softer and more delicate than those of adults.
Several dental issues can prevent the healthy growth of permanent teeth or cause lifelong problems if not identified and addressed at the right time. This article is here to highlight some common dental problems found in children. This valuable piece of information can help you detect any signs of serious issues beforehand and consult your dentist.
Most Common Dental Problems in Children
Let’s talk about the most common dental problems in children. It’s essential to keep an eye out for these issues to ensure your little ones have healthy smiles.
- Tooth Decay (Cavities): The most frequent issue faced by young children is that of cavities or tooth decay. The process of demineralization leads to the formation of cavities, which is often aggravated by the consumption of sweets and processed foods that are high in sugar. Cavities in children are more common as their teeth are still developing and tender.
- Gum Disease (Gingivitis): Gum disease in kids, like gingivitis, is not as common. But it is still a legitimate cause of concern. It occurs due to plaque accumulation, which can irritate their gums. Some signs to look out for are gums that are red or swollen or have a tendency to bleed easily.
- Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Bruxism is a condition where people unconsciously grind their teeth at night. Bruxism in kids can cause damage to the teeth and lead to other dental health issues. Teeth grinding in children is relatively common, and it can be caused due to stress or misaligned teeth.
- Thumb Sucking and Dental Development: Kids often employ thumb sucking as a calming mechanism to soothe themselves naturally. This may work initially. However, if prolonged, it can have adverse long-term effects like defects in dental and jaw development or misaligned teeth.
- Over-retained Primary Teeth: Baby teeth tend not to always fall out at the right time. Over-retained primary teeth mean when baby teeth haven’t given way for permanent teeth in the correct time frame. This scenario can lead to complications in the positioning of permanent teeth and may require extraction.
- Tooth Sensitivity: Sensitivity in teeth can start at a young age due to several reasons like cavities in children, receding gums, etc. Sensitivity manifests itself in the form of sharp pains when teeth come in contact with really hot or cold foods.
- Bad Breath (Halitosis): Halitosis is a common condition for people of all ages. It can be caused due to several factors like dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, or bacterial presence in between the teeth or on the tongue. Consumption of certain foods can also cause halitosis.
- Dental Alignment Issues and Malocclusion: Growing children often face dental alignment issues. Dental problems in children, such as underbites, overbite, or crowded teeth, are grouped as malocclusions. These issues may cause difficulties in speaking and eating or alter how their smile appears.
- Dental Injuries: Being high on energy and getting scrapes and injuries is a part of a healthy childhood. Children are prone to dental injuries during sports or playtime. Chipped or knocked-off teeth can sometimes end up being serious injuries, affecting confidence, dental health, and alignment.
- Dental Anxiety and Phobias: Every kid gets scared to visit the dentist. Dental anxiety can stay with kids well into their adulthood. It can make them hesitant to go for their regular checkups and teeth cleanings. This may cause issues in maintaining good oral health for your kids. It needs to be addressed by the parents to make the experience more relaxed and enjoyable.
- Oral Habits Leading to Dental Problems: Your children’s dental care can be affected by problematic habits such as mouth breathing or tongue thrusting. Such habits impact the development and growth of jaws and teeth. This might lead to problems like changes in bite or misalignment.
Causes of Dental Problems in Children and How They Can Be Prevented
Dental problems in children mainly originate from poor oral hygiene. Plaque buildup caused by irregular or improper brushing and flossing can increase bacterial activity and cause cavities. Additionally, cavities and gum diseases can be caused due to a high intake of processed foods high in sugar.
Another factor to keep in mind is genetics. Children whose parents have weak enamel or misaligned teeth may be susceptible to facing similar issues. Prevention of dental issues boils down to parents teaching good oral hygiene since early childhood. Brushing twice a day, for two minutes at least, is just one example.
Using fluoride toothpaste and flossing once the teeth have grown fully, should also be incorporated. Another way to prevent cavities in children is to limit the consumption of high-sugar items. For example, parents can provide kids with natural alternatives like water or fresh juices rather than carbonated sodas.
In the end, regular visits to your dental practitioner always help to identify any signs and symptoms early on. After all, prevention is better than cure.
When it comes to dental problems in children, proper oral hygiene and habits can go a long way in avoiding issues. So, let’s try to make that dreaded visit to the dentist a fun experience for our kids. They’ll thank you when they’re older!
Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental clinic in Salem, MA. Dr. Isaac strives for quality on a daily basis and this commitment to quality is reflected in her constant pursuit of advanced training.