Aug 18

Common Dental Concerns for Children

Child Smiling

Did you know that a healthy mouth as an adult begins with healthy dental practices as a child? Because baby teeth are Nature’s space maintainers for adult teeth, it is of utmost importance to keep baby teeth healthy for future beautiful smiles. The following is a list compiled by the American Dental Association (ADA) of common dental concerns specific to children with suggestions for care and prevention:

1. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD)– Also known as Early Childhood Caries, tooth decay in infancy and early childhood is often caused by transfer of cavity causing bacteria through shared saliva from mother to child. Long exposure to sugary drinks can also lead to cavities. “Sugary drinks” doesn’t only mean sodas and fruit juices! Milk, even breast milk, has sugar in it and can lead to BBTD if a child has prolonged exposure to it, for example, by putting a baby to bed with a bottle. The ADA has many suggestions for the prevention of BBTD. Mother’s, or primary caregivers, can limit saliva transfer by not licking pacifiers to clean them, or by not sharing feeding spoons. Sugar exposure can be controlled by not dipping pacifiers in honey or sugar and by filling bottles with only milk. Small children should also finish their pre-nap or pre-bedtime bottles before they are put down to sleep. Early emphasis on brushing and oral hygiene is also important, even during the first months of life. Before baby teeth start to erupt, a baby’s gums should be wiped with a clean gauze pad to remove food and plaque-causing bacteria. Once baby teeth start coming in, caregivers can begin brushing teeth with a soft, child’s toothbrush with water. Pea sized amounts of toothpaste can start being used once children reach the age of 2. Healthy eating habits are also an important factor for preventing early childhood tooth decay and promoting a healthy lifestyle! (http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay.aspx)

2. Thumbsucking– Thumbsucking is a common activity for young children, and they often grow out of it by the time their permanent teeth start erupting (around 2-4 years). However, thumbsucking, and in particular prolonged thumbsucking, can affect the alignment of permanent teeth and cause changes in the roof of the mouth. This is particularly true with aggressive thumbsuckers. The ADA suggests persuading older children to stop thumb sucking or having children speak with their dentist about the effects of thumbsucking. In the event that these measures do not work, having a child wear a sock over their hand at night may deter them from sucking in their sleep. Doctors may also prescribe bitter tasting nail polish. (http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/thumbsucking.aspx)

3. Bad Bites (Malocclusion)– If there is one thing that can be considered a modern “coming of age” practice in the United States it’s braces. That’s because orthodontia is often used to remedy bad bites and misaligned teeth after a child’s permanent teeth have erupted, around the ages of 8-14. Braces are important because a bad bite can lead to future tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, abnormal enamel wear, jaw pain, and affected speech. Normal treatment time can take between 1-3 years and is followed by the use of a retainer. It is very important to practice healthy eating habits and stay away from certain foods like popcorn, gum, corn on the cob, and whole apples because these can cause damage to the braces. Though braces can be a bit expensive and a little painful after tightening, they are a great long term investment for a child’s healthy and happy smile! (http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/braces.aspx)

4. Dental Emergencies!– We can’t completely protect our children from the occasional dental emergency. Sometimes a wildly thrown baseball or a bicycle accident can lead to the loss or damage of a tooth. If the lost tooth is a permanent tooth, keep it moist at all times. Try putting it back in its socket without touching the root, or have the child keep the tooth in his mouth between the gum and cheek. You can also store it in milk! If the tooth was cracked, clean the mouth with warm water and use a cold compress to prevent swelling. If the child bit his/her tongue or lip, clean the area gently with water and apply a cold compress. Most importantly, see the dentist or emergency room immediately! This is particularly important for damaged baby teeth, as a premature loss can affect the proper growing in of the permanent teeth.

For more information on child dental health, please visit the American Dental Association website at http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/babies-and-kids/. Feel free to also give us a call at (510) 444-4334 to schedule an appointment for your child, so they can have a bright and beautiful smile!

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  1. Pingback: max November 13, 2014

    thanks for information.

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