As much as parents try to prevent them, there are a number of oral health concerns that can present in your young child. We’ve compiled a quick guide on some of the top oral health challenges for children and how to address them.
Cavities and Tooth Decay
Childhood tooth decay is an extremely common issue that can present in kids as young as 1 or 2. Parents should not discount the seriousness of decay in baby teeth. Untreated cavities in baby teeth can lead to significant problems with your child’s oral health and their adult teeth.
More than half of all kids have had a cavity in at least one of their baby teeth by 6 to 8 years old.
Tooth decay in toddlers and young kids can be treated in a variety of different ways, including fillings or special varnishes and sealants designed to help prevent the spread of decay.
Genetics can play a key role in the risk of developing misaligned teeth. Nearly 50 percent of all children will need braces to fix oral health concerns such as overbites and other misalignments. The most common age range for braces is between the ages of 9 and 14 years old. Headgear, retainers, and tooth extractions may also be a necessary part of your child’s orthodontics treatment.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Kids may grind their teeth for a variety of reasons, including stress, anxiety, depression, earaches, or teething pain. You may not even notice your child grinding their teeth because it most often happens overnight. A special mouthguard worn at night can help, or you may need to address the underlying cause. Most children grow out of bruxism by the age of 5 or 6.
Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
Although traditionally thought of as primarily affecting adults, gum disease can affect kids of all ages as well. Chronic gingivitis leads to red and inflamed gum tissue that bleeds easily. Other symptoms of gum disease in kids can include unusually bad breath and bad taste. Advanced gum disease may require a series of visits to the dentist for a special deep cleaning.
Many kids suffer from sensitive teeth, an extremely painful oral health condition most often caused by tooth decay and enamel loss. Kids are actually more prone to developing teeth sensitivity than adults because their enamel is weaker than ours. As enamel wears away or gums recede, cracks can develop on the surface of the tooth, exposing nerve endings.
Your child’s dentist can apply a sealant to their teeth to help counter enamel damage, and you may also be able to use a specially formulated toothpaste to help relieve any tooth pain.
Although at first glance it may not seem related to oral health, thumb-sucking can cause a significant oral health challenge in kids due to its effect on their teeth. Thumb-sucking disrupts normal tooth development and alignment and can cause damage to baby and adult teeth. Speech problems can also develop if the habit persists. A dentist or behavioral specialist may be able to assist you with tips on breaking this unhealthy habit before it causes significant damage.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s oral health, give your family dentist a call or contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified pediatricians!