The Five Most Common Dental Problems in Children
Dental problems are one of the most common childhood health issues. In fact, roughly four out of five children have tooth decay by the time they reach school age. The good news is that these problems can be prevented and often treated with a bit of effort from both parents and dentists alike!
In this blog post, we'll discuss five of the most common dental problems in children, as well as what you can do to prevent them when caring for your child's teeth at home.
Tooth decay is the most common dental problem in children. It occurs when plaque (a sticky mixture of bacteria, food particles, and saliva) builds up on teeth and forms a hard coating called tartar that can only be removed through professional cleaning by a dentist or hygienist.
While it requires professional attention, tooth decay is an entirely preventable condition! Start by brushing your child's teeth twice per day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, and make sure to supervise them while they brush. It's also vital that you don't give your children sugary snacks or drinks between meals since these provide the bacteria in plaque that needs to produce acid (the main culprit in tooth decay).
Sensitive teeth are another prevalent dental problem among children. Tooth sensitivity can result from tooth grinding or clenching, or damage to teeth due to enamel erosion.
Another common cause is an allergy to something in their food that's triggering a response from specific nerves in the mouth and gums. A dentist will usually recommend some treatment for sensitive teeth (such as Sensodyne).
While some dental issues are difficult to pinpoint in children, dental sensitivity is easily detected. Just take note of how your child reacts to things like hot and cold foods, even brushing their teeth.
To combat or prevent sensitive teeth, dentists can apply a sealant to the teeth, strengthening the enamel and filling any cracks. Give your child a toothbrush with soft bristles to use at home. Stiff bristles can damage the surface of teeth over time, causing microscopic cracks in the tooth by scraping off the enamel and creating tooth sensitivity.
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is an extremely common dental issue among children. Bad breath results from an accumulation of bacteria on the tongue or in between and under teeth.
Much like adults, bad breath is worse for children in the morning. Throughout the night, bacteria living in the mouth multiply, and hydrogen sulfide gas is produced (which causes the bad smell). Suppose your child's bad breath persists throughout the day, regardless of dental hygiene habits. In that case, this is probably indicative of a more significant issue.
A wide range of problems can cause excessive bacterial buildup in the mouth. Most commonly, poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, and gum issues cause bad breath in children. However, chronic halitosis can also be caused by diabetes, tooth decay issues, and digestive problems.
The best way to treat and prevent bad breath in your child is via proper dental hygiene. Incorporating antibacterial mouthwash and tongue brushing into your child's daily dental routine may also help combat halitosis.
Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is a common dental problem that affects adults and children alike. This condition, which happens when plaque stays on the gums around your teeth for an extended time, can make your child more susceptible to developing cavities or other oral conditions like tooth decay.
A child's gums will often be red and swollen during the early stages of gingivitis, receding from the teeth and bleeding easily while brushing or flossing. Bad breath or a persistent bad taste in the mouth can also indicate that your child has gingivitis.
The good news is gum disease is preventable! Regular dental visits, coupled with daily brushing and flossing, can help ensure your child avoids gingivitis. For more serious cases, your child may need deep dental cleanings or specialized rinses to combat gum disease.
While this last entry on the list is more of a habit, we felt it was important to mention the severe issues that can arise from thumb sucking for too many years.
Thumb sucking is one of the most common soothing behaviors among young children. It will usually fade away when they turn two or three years old. However, it's essential to monitor this habit as your child ages.
If your child is still sucking their thumb when their permanent teeth begin coming in, it can lead to crooked teeth, issues with the roof of their mouth, and misaligned jaws. Additionally, your child can cause damage to both baby and adult teeth, as well as develop speech issues.
If your child needs help breaking the habit of thumb sucking, contact your Pediatric Dentist. Your family dentist can provide excellent support and resources to help you assist your child in breaking the habit.