A child’s oral cavity undergoes rapid physical development during the early years. A pediatric dentist can help monitor any potential issues before they become major problems. Tooth decay, cavities, sensitivity, and misalignmentare common dental problems requiring a dentist’s attention.
Untreated dental conditions may lead to poor and misaligned tooth development, which can cause serious problems when a child grows up. Here are six common pediatric dental issues that require a visit to the dentist:
According to AAPD and CDC, tooth decay (also “caries”) is the number one chronic illness among children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-fifth of all children suffer from untreated dental problems. Repeated exposure to food builds up a hardened layer of bacteria, commonly known as plaque. This deposit releases acid that erodes the tooth’s enamel, which causes gradual decay.
Sensitive teeth don’t necessarily point to a problem, but they can cause significant distraction and discomfort. Cavities, enamel wear, teeth grinding, missing filling, or orthodontic treatment are common reasons for sensitivity.
Children’s tooth enamel is thin and prone to wearing out. The exposed nerve endings are vulnerable to food temperature. Dentists use a sealant to treat sensitive teeth, which strengthens the enamel and fills up cracks. Sealants also help prevent tooth decay.
We often inherit orthodontic problems. Misalignment and spacing issues are common among children. Orthodontists carry out specialized treatments to correct overcrowding and misalignment issues. A pediatric dentist can take digital x-rays to determine how teeth are growing and if your child needs to visit an orthodontist. Most orthodontists recommend an initial visit around the age of 7.
Halitosis or bad breath affects people of all ages and is often a result of poor oral hygiene. In some cases, it could be an indicator of deeper issues like chronic sinusitis, tooth decay, and digestive problems. Therefore, you must brush and floss daily to prevent the buildup of food particles, bacteria, and plaque in the mouth. Talk to your pediatric dentist if you are concerned about your child’s bad breath.
Many toddlers and young children suck their thumb or use pacifiers to soothe anxiety. This can be a valuable tool to help your child self-soothe and learn to sleep on their own. But eventually, your child will be ready to adjust to life without a pacifier. Your pediatric dentist can help with some suggestions on making this transition.
If not kept under check, thumb sucking can lead to an open bite—a condition where the upper front teeth misalign with the lower front teeth to leave a gap. Generally, this bite eventually closes, but it’s good to discuss it with your child’s dentist. Prolonged thumb sucking can also cause speech problems.
Also known as bruxism, grinding is prevalent among school-age children. It is often caused by poor tooth alignment, pain, teething, earache, stress, or hyperactivity.
Usually, bruxism doesn’t require treatment and stops as children grow older. However, it can cause muscular discomfort, dental pain, and permanent harm to the teeth if it persists. Therefore, have your child see a dentist if they suffer from bruxism. A professional service provider will assess the problem and provide an effective solution before it’s too late.
Dr. Lafe Chaffee is a children’s dentist who has been practicing since 2011. At Chaffee Pediatric Dentistry, he provides specialist dental services for children, including those with special needs. You can reach us at 480.739.2993 or write an email to [email protected] for more information.