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premature baby in incubator at hospital

November is National Prematurity Awareness Month. Premature babies may face enormous health challenges, and some, tragically, do not survive. But these tiny warriors are fierce fighters, and many demonstrate remarkable resilience and strength. Nonetheless, health problems may continue throughout life. And as your dentist in Overland Park, KS, can tell you, these challenges may also include dental problems. 

If you are the parent of a premature baby, it’s important to include a pediatric dentist in your child’s healthcare team. Dr. Matt, Dr. Craven, and the entire team at Smiles Dentistry for Kids offer compassionate pediatric care. We understand the unique needs of children, including those born prematurely. We can assess your child’s oral development from a young age and provide ongoing care throughout their adolescent years. 

To schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Overland Park, KS, contact us today.

Prematurity: What You Should Know

A baby that is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature. Premature birth affects 10.4% of all deliveries in the US. Babies born too early have a number of health risks, which increase based on how many weeks they were born before their due date. Fortunately, many of these issues resolve over time. But long term effects, such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and vision loss may be permanent. Dental problems can also be lifelong.

Delayed Teething

Teething usually begins around six months of age. But for preterm babies, it can happen much later, especially if they were very premature. Fortunately, this does not typically indicate a larger problem. Still, if your preemie hasn’t started teething by age 1, you should schedule an evaluation with a dentist in Overland Park, KS.

Enamel Hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a condition that causes thin or missing dental enamel. Without this hard protective coating, teeth are more subject to sensitivity, cracking, and chipping. Moreover, hypoplastic teeth are twice as likely to have cavities as teeth with normal enamel

For children with this condition, regular exams and cleanings are essential, and they may need more than two dental visits per year. If necessary, other treatments are available, including dental restorations and supplements to remineralize teeth.

Dental Discoloration

Enamel hypoplasia often causes teeth to have a yellow or brown tint. In very rare cases, jaundice, a common condition among preemies, can give teeth a greenish color. Typically, this only happens when babies have elevated bilirubin for months at a time. Fortunately, it only affects the baby teeth, though it can be distressing until the permanent teeth come in. 

Palatal Groove

When babies spend a long time intubated, it can cause a groove to form in the hard palate. This anomaly can cause misaligned teeth, feeding problems, speech difficulties, and, in extreme cases, hearing loss

Orthodontic Issues

Children born early are more likely to have dental malocclusion as they grow older. Researchers speculate that this is also due to intubation. Fortunately, braces are usually enough to correct the problem, and studies show that preemies are not more likely to experience jaw pain than babies born full term.

Contact a Dentist in Overland Park Today

Are you the parent of a tiny warrior? Contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids to schedule a consultation for your child. 

Reach us online or call us at (913) 685-9990.

Smiles Dentistry For Kids

14700 Metcalf Ave, Suite 110
Overland Park, KS 66223
(913) 685-9990
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm
8:00am - 4:30pm

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