Feb 17 2021

Parents Beware: 5 Common Oral Health Problems in Children

little girl brushing teeth

From the first moment we hold our babies, we make a promise to ourselves to do all we can to ensure they are loved and protected. It’s the reason we put locks on our cabinets, set curfews, and over-do it with gifts on their birthdays. Another way we, as dental professionals, encourage parents to protect their children is to start taking care of their child’s mouth from the day he or she is born.

Good oral hygiene practices like wiping a baby’s gums after feedings, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and breaking thumb-sucking and pacifier habits protect infants and adolescents from all kinds of oral health problems.

When parents don’t abide by their pediatric dentist’s guidelines, children may suffer from the following oral health issues:

1. Cavities

Cavities, or caries, occur when sugar and other food particles remain on the chewing, front, or back surfaces of the teeth. These particles turn into plaque, then tartar, and eat away at the enamel. This creates a cavity, or hole. If left untreated, the cavity continues to form, affecting the softer, inner layer of the tooth.

Dental caries can be extremely painful for children and should be avoided at all costs! Be sure to talk to your child’s pediatric dentist about good oral hygiene practices to put in place at home.

2. Gingivitis

Like cavities, gingivitis begins with plaque that transforms into tartar. The difference is that this plaque is built up along the gum line. The longer it sits there, the more damage it does.

Signs of gingivitis include bleeding gums after brushing or flossing, swollen gums, or irritated gums. If you notice these symptoms in your child’s mouth, be sure to schedule a dental cleaning with his pediatric dentist as soon as possible. 

3. Baby bottle tooth decay

Bottle- and breast-fed babies are at risk for something called “baby bottle tooth decay.” Essentially, this is the same as cavities, but in infants and toddlers. Dental professionals have given it this name because these cavities are usually caused by frequent, long-lasting feedings, especially right before bedtime or naptime.

Breast milk and formula contain sugar that sticks to teeth immediately after a feeding. When babies eat right before sleeping, less saliva production allows the sugar to turn into acid and eat away at the enamel.

To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, clean his or her teeth after every feeding and try not to allow bottles to put her to sleep.

4. Bad breath

Persistent bad breath in children (and adults) can have a few different causes, such as:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Cavities
  • Gingivitis
  • Dehydration
  • Sinus or upper respiratory infection
  • ENT problems

Our first recommendation is to ensure your little one is brushing and flossing properly and consistently. If this doesn’t help, schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist or physician, based on his other symptoms.

5. Early tooth loss

Ultimately, all of these oral health issues could lead to tooth loss if they aren’t treated in time. While this may not seem like a big deal because “baby teeth fall out anyway,” early tooth loss comes with serious consequences, like:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Digestive issues
  • Inability to pronounce certain letters
  • Low self-esteem
  • Improper development of permanent teeth

As pediatric dental professionals, we strive to give parents the knowledge and tools help their children avoid these consequences through education and preventive care.

Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids is always prepared to educate parents on the proper oral hygiene practices for their children. We also provide necessary and preventive treatments that reduce oral health problems in kids of all ages.

Contact our friendly team today at (913) 685-9990 to schedule your initial consultation.

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