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Oral Health Pediatric Dentistry

Ways to Prevent Serious Dental Issues Commonly Seen in Children

Protect baby teeth for optimal oral health.

While children are susceptible to the same serious dental issues as adults, there are simple steps parents can take to prevent problems and support better oral health. First and foremost, it is important to understand that baby teeth play a vital role in a child’s development. Just because baby teeth will eventually fall out, doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be cared for properly. Protecting baby teeth will ensure that your children can enjoy optimal oral health that will set them up for a lifetime of smiles. Keep reading to learn more about the most common dental issues in children and how you can prevent them.

1. Tooth Decay

The most common dental issue that affects children is dental decay. As bacteria collects in the mouth, it turns into plaque, which begins to cover the teeth and eat away at the enamel. While small cavities and minor tooth decay may not cause any noticeable symptoms, advanced decay can result in tooth sensitivity, pain, swelling, and visible signs of decay such as black, brown, or white spots. 

Causes of Tooth Decay and Preventative Steps You Can Take

Perhaps the biggest cause of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene habits. Regular brushing and flossing are essential to controlling bacteria and removing plaque. Children should brush at least twice a day and see the dentist twice a year for a professional evaluation and cleaning. A dentist will be able to detect any early signs of decay and help take preventative measures to avoid more serious problems. It is also important for you to encourage proper dental hygiene and monitor your child’s habits to make sure they are thoroughly cleaning their teeth.

Poor nutrition can also contribute to tooth decay. Diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates feed bacteria and create more acid in the mouth. This will break down the enamel over time and cause serious problems.

Treating Tooth Decay

For children who are in the more advanced stages of tooth decay a filling, crown and even an implant may be necessary. If the cavity is superficial and hasn’t attacked the center of the tooth or caused an infection in the root, a filling will be able to address the problem. However, more severe decay will require a kid’s dental crown. 

While baby teeth will naturally fall out on their own, this transition to adult teeth follows an important developmental pattern. If decayed baby teeth fall out too early, it can affect how permanent teeth come in and lead to further problems. In addition, you don’t want your child to suffer from the pain and discomfort of decaying and infected teeth. That is why children’s dental crowns are a common and effective treatment for advanced decay.

2. Gum Disease

Gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease, is an infection that attacks the gums and structures that support teeth, including the jaw bone. You have probably heard of and been warned about gingivitis. This is considered the first sign of gum disease. If gingivitis is allowed to progress, the gums will pull away from the teeth, which forms pockets where bacteria will accumulate, grow, and cause infections. Children with full-fledged gum disease will experience damaged tissue and tooth loss. 

Causes of Gum Disease

While genetics, illnesses, and certain medications can cause or contribute to gum disease, most cases can be attributed to poor oral hygiene habits. This is especially true when it comes to young patients.

Preventing Gum Disease in Children

It all comes down to regular brushing and flossing and bi-annual visits to the dentist. Children may still be developing the motor skills they need to brush thoroughly. They also may be resistant to making oral hygiene a part of their daily routine. That is why it is important for parents to help with brushing when necessary and try to make it a fun activity that kids don’t dread. This can help establish healthy patterns that carry on into adulthood. 

3. Crooked Teeth

Having crooked teeth is more than just an aesthetic concern. Misaligned teeth can cause jaw pain, an irregular bite, speech difficulties, periodontal disease, and overcrowding in the mouth. While crooked teeth can be corrected using traditional orthodontic methods and more modern clear aligners, these treatments can be expensive. It is better to take steps early in childhood in order to support proper development and prevent crooked teeth than have to fix them later in life. 

Causes of Crooked Teeth

Kids may be genetically prone to crooked teeth, but poor nutrition and dental care can also add to the problem. If children aren’t seeing a family dentist for regular evaluations, then some of the issues that can lead to crooked teeth will go untreated. In addition, a dentist can monitor tooth movement to make sure other major problems don’t arise.

Preventing Crooked Teeth in Children

The best way to prevent children from growing crooked adult teeth is to make sure that their baby teeth are healthy and don’t fall out prematurely. From there, you will also want to work with your family dentist to make sure that adult teeth are coming in properly. Taking corrective measures at the first sign of a problem can help your kids avoid having to undergo more extensive orthodontic treatments. 

Ultimately, the same rules apply to both children and adults. Good oral hygiene is at the heart of preventing serious dental issues, including tooth decay, gum disease, and crooked teeth. Whether you want to get your child off on the right track or you need help addressing oral health problems that have already emerged, Dr. Judith Shea and her team can help. They are experts in pediatric dentistry and understand the challenges both parents and children face. Patients enjoy the best in compassionate care and the latest tools and techniques. Contact us today to make an appointment.