Despite a parent’s best efforts, kids don’t always excel when it comes to oral hygiene. This is why they often struggle with dental problems that require a visit to the dentist to fix. Luckily, you can keep an eye out for some of the most common dental problems for kids. Watching for signs and symptoms of these problems can allow you to catch them and fix them before it’s too late.
Tooth Decay and Cavities
Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases found in kids. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria growth and leads to cavities. It’s so common in kids because either kids are still learning how to properly take care of their oral health or they’re not doing a good enough job of it.
There are a few things you can do to catch tooth decay before it’s too late. One is to limit sugary and acidic foods to protect the tooth enamel. Another is to ensure your child is engaging in proper dental hygiene with consistent, thorough brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. The third is regular dental checkups to have X-rays and exams done so that small, invisible bits of tooth decay can be treated before they become bigger.
Sensitive teeth can have many causes. Tooth decay or improper oral hygiene are just a couple possibilities. Your child may also brush too hard and wear away the enamel that protects their teeth. Or they may grind their teeth or have an injury that creates tooth sensitivity.
You can catch sensitivity in the early stages by watching your child carefully. Facial expressions, such as wincing, or hissing noises when they eat or drink hot or cold foods may indicate sensitivity. They may also start avoiding hot or cold foods or drinks.
Gum disease in kids surprises many parents, and yet it is very common. When kids don’t brush and floss properly, gum disease can be a result. Plaque builds up on and under the gum line and causes gingivitis.
If your child’s gums are red and swollen, if they bleed when they brush, or if your child has chronic bad breath, this can indicate gum disease. In these early stages, it’s reversible with a professional cleaning by a dentist with pediatric dental care services. Following the cleaning with stellar home care will prevent the gingivitis from returning.
Loose or Damaged Teeth
Kids lose their teeth naturally to allow their adult, or permanent, teeth to grow in. But sometimes kids end up with loose teeth for other reasons, such as decay. They might also have tooth damage due to an injury, such as a fall or being hit with a ball.
Teeth that come out too early can cause other issues, such as crowding. Signs of loose or damaged teeth include:
- A tooth that is loose before it should be
- A tooth that is loose after an injury or fall
- A tooth that has changed color (gray, brown, or black are especially concerning)
- A tooth that has changed position (become crooked or is no longer in the same spot on the gum
It’s important to take your child in for pediatric dental care services about twice a year. Their dentist will check your child’s teeth so that any small issues can be caught before they become major problems. They may also be able to teach your child more about dental hygiene; children are sometimes more willing to listen to a professional than to their parents. Your dentist may also offer pediatric services such as putting sealants on to decrease sensitivity. Finally, the dentist can let you know if you should consider orthodontics for your child.
Baby, or primary, teeth might seem unimportant. They fall out to be replaced by permanent teeth, anyway. But their placeholder status is critical. Baby teeth don’t just allow your child to eat, drink, speak, and otherwise behave normally. They also ensure that your child’s adult teeth come in at the right time and in the right place. Taking good care of your child’s baby teeth is just as important as taking care of their adult teeth. Visiting your child’s dentist regularly and ensuring that their teeth are in tiptop shape will help give them a healthy mouth for the rest of their life.
By Anita Ginsburg
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.