When it comes to a happy and healthy child, there are no shortage of issues to think about. Many of us may first think of medical conditions when we worry about our little one’s health, but oral health is also important. Although baby teeth, also called primary teeth, are made to be replaced by adult teeth, they still need to be taken care of.
After all, a toothache still causes pain in baby teeth just as much as adult teeth. And don’t forget about the gums! Children have the same gums they will have as an adult, and gum health can have a major impact on permanent teeth as they grow in.
Knowing about the most common dental problems in children can help you be more informed and engaged about your child’s oral health. This guide to the most common dental problems can help you identify these issues if they develop, and take the right treatment steps. If dental care is required, you can work more closely with your child’s dentist to ensure the best results and smiles!
There are almost countless potential dental problems that can develop in a growing mouth. Every child is different, so some kids may be more prone to certain problems than others. With that said, here is a list of some of the most common dental issues that parents and children encounter:
This is number one for a reason. Like adults, children’s mouths are full of bacteria — good and bad. The bad ones get mixed up with food, stick to our teeth, and create acid as a byproduct that eats away at our enamel. Spots on the teeth can be a sign of early tooth decay that can eventually become holes, or cavities. Although baby teeth are made to fall out, cavities can still hurt and cause problems. Sugary drinks, carbohydrates, and poor oral hygiene are all big contributors to tooth decay and cavities.
You may think of tooth sensitivity as affecting the older population, but it can be surprisingly common in children, who have thinner enamel than adults. Being sensitive to hot and cold food or drinks, or even cold air, is a major indicator of this condition. In some cases, kids may just have naturally sensitive teeth, but it could also be a sign of a deeper issue, including small cracks, thin enamel, or teeth grinding.
A tooth infection, or abscess, is a pocket of puss that develops in the pulp of the teeth due to a bacterial infection. Like grownups, this is commonly caused by an untreated cavity. Signs of a tooth infection include sharp pain in the tooth and surrounding areas, change of color in the tooth, visible swelling, and fever. Tooth infections are always a dental emergency and you should contact a dentist immediately if you see any signs of an abscess.
Also known as gingivitis, gum disease in children is the result of plaque buildup that causes swelling and inflammation in the gums. The most common cause is poor oral hygiene that irritates surrounding gums. Unaddressed gingivitis can progress to periodontitis that can lead to tooth loss and even bone damage to the surrounding jaw in children.
We know how our kids can be. Sports, play, and general rough-housing can damage the teeth just like other parts of the body. The result can be cracks, chips, and even tooth loss. Never ignore a damaged tooth, even if it seems painless and it’s “just a baby tooth.” Any tooth damage should be treated as a dental emergency and receive immediate care.
With any of these problems, when in doubt, call your dentist. Dental problems have a tendency to progress, so the sooner you take action, the better.
For many common dental problems in children, prevention is the best cure. Of course, this starts with good oral hygiene that includes careful flossing, rinsing, and brushing. Take the time to show your child the correct way to brush and establish a consistent routine.
Drinking plenty of water with fluoride can also help prevent tooth decay. And in general, encourage a healthy diet in your child that minimizes sugar. In older babies and toddlers, try to avoid bottles with juice before bedtime.
Early dental care, including regular dental examinations and cleanings, is also key to prevention. A visual examination along with dental imagery can ensure that no problems are developing and that adult teeth are coming in correctly and in a timely manner. Cleanings help prevent tartar and plaque buildup that leads to decay, cavities, and gingivitis.
When problems do occur, there are effective treatments for all of the common dental problems in children. From fillings, to sealants, to root canals, to advanced periodontal treatment, an experienced pediatric dentist can work with you to develop a personalized care plan for your child.
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!