As parents, we need to teach our children good dental hygiene and be aware of the common issues our little ones can face. Several dental problems specifically affect children ranging from thumb sucking, tooth decay, tongue thrusting, early tooth loss, and lip sucking.
When not caught early, these problems can have a long-term impact. Even though your child may still have his or her baby teeth, good dental health is important for their overall well-being.
Here are some common dental issues to look out for. If you suspect your child is facing any, you should contact your dentist immediately.
Most children under the age of five suck their thumbs, toys, clothes, or blankets to comfort themselves. They do this on a regular basis, consequently forming a habit. This habit will carry on once adult teeth start to form and when this happens, problems are bound to happen.
Thumb sucking can lead to several dental problems including crooked teeth, an overbite, or damage to the roof of the mouth. The severity of the damage depends on the regularity and force applied by your little one. It’s important to be careful of this as it can even affect a child’s speech.
To assist your child in stopping, you need to understand why they are sucking their thumb or other objects. Perhaps they are experiencing stress. This is common if they’re enrolled in pre-school as they’re being exposed to a different environment. Sometimes these stressors occur right at home. Whenever possible, address and minimize these stressors.
Consequently, do not scold your child for this habit, but rather reward their positive action towards stopping. Shouting at them for sucking their thumb is not the most effective way of getting them to stop. They will stop when they are ready and if they don’t, there is dental equipment that can help reduce the sucking – chat with your dentist about this if it becomes necessary.
One of the most common issues in children is tooth decay, which is caused by too much sugar in a child’s diet. When left untreated, your child’s smile will experience plaque build-up and eventually tooth decay.
Decay can even affect very young babies who are still drinking milk. Things like formula with high sugar content, sweetened water, sugary drinks, and even natural substances like mother’s milk, fruit juices, and honey can cause tooth decay. If not treated early, your child will have pain when eating. Baby teeth that are lost due to decay will also impact the way adult teeth grow.
Bad decay can also lead to tooth abscesses. This condition is extremely painful and the infection can spread through the body. Not to mention the risk of gum disease! To prevent decay, you need to reduce sugar consumption as much as possible and make sure to clean your child’s or baby’s mouth often. Try to offer your infant water more often than not. For babies, you can wipe their teeth with a clean cloth after each feeding to do away with any milk or formula residue.
Tongue thrusting in children is the habit of placing the tongue on or between the teeth when swallowing, talking, or simply resting. This habit can seriously pressurize the front teeth and push them out of position. Like thumb sucking, the habit can also impact the development of your child’s speech.
If you pick up that your child is tongue thrusting, the best thing to do will be to get in touch with a speech pathologist. The pathologist will help your child to strengthen the right muscles for chewing and work with them on the right way to swallow. Your dentist should also be able to advise you on a course of action.
Early Tooth Loss
Sometimes a child may lose a milk tooth before it is ready to come out. This can be caused by decay, injury, or insufficient space for teeth in the jaw. This can make chewing difficult and even affect joints in the jaw.
If this happens to your child, be sure to see a dentist. Your dentist may need to fit a space maintainer in your child’s mouth or else there may not be enough space for the adult teeth to grow through properly. This will lead to poorly aligned teeth and quite a problem to fix later on. The maintainer will be taken out once the new teeth start to grow.
Children can get canker sores, which are essentially ulcers. The sores usually appear on the inside of the mouth, on the gums, or the tongue. They are not the same thing as cold sores or fever blisters. It is not certain what causes the sores. It could be diet, vitamin deficiencies, stress, or an allergy/ inflammation following an injury.
Because they are usually painful, give your child soft foods and drinks while they heal. An antimicrobial mouth wash may help as well.
Children will often get sensitive teeth – they will feel sensitivity when eating or drinking hot or cold food and drinks. This could be caused by the thinner tooth enamel that children naturally have. Sometimes the condition can indicate a more serious dental issue. If it turns out just to be thin enamel, your dentist can easily seal the teeth which will solve the problem.
These are all common dental issues that your little one may face. Every child’s dental health is different and they’re subject to different circumstances that can affect his or her teeth. If you have any misgivings about your child’s dental health, do not hesitate to get in touch with your dentist.