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  • Writer's pictureGreater Houston Pediatric Dentistry

What are the 6 Most Common Dental Problems for Children?

We know that parents want the very best for their children and that includes their dental health. Dental issues are very common in children, so it is important to teach children healthy habits and good oral hygiene from a very early age. The encouraging word for parents is that most dental problems children face are preventable and treatable with proper care and healthy routines. 


children running through a field

HERE ARE THE SIX MOST COMMON DENTAL PROBLEMS THAT CHILDREN & ADOLESCENTS EXPERIENCE


TOOTH DECAY

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cavities are the most common chronic disease of childhood in the United States. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning. However, with proper oral hygiene and healthy habits, cavities are preventable. 


What can parents or caregivers do to protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay and the resulting complications? Spend time showing your child the proper way to brush teeth. Healthy, consistent at-home oral hygiene habits help increase their effectiveness and ward off unnecessary decay. Additionally, schedule routine dental visits at a pediatric dentist near you. Regular dental visits can prevent cavities from forming and also provides the opportunity to detect and treat tooth decay in the earliest and easily treatable stages.


TOOTH SENSITIVITY

Tooth sensitivity is a common dental issue found in children. Sensitivity can be the cause of poor brushing habits, tooth decay and enamel erosion. There are many reasons why your child may be experiencing sensitivity, but most of the reasons can be traced back to poor oral hygiene. This is why it is so important to encourage your child to develop healthy dental habits. 



DENTAL EMERGENCIES: CHIPPING, BREAKING OR CRACKED

Accidents happen and are a common cause of dental trauma or dental emergencies among children. If your child injures their teeth due to a trauma, sports-related injury or while playing, contact your dentist as soon as possible to schedule an emergency visit and examination.


Here are a few tips to follow if your child is injured or bleeding before heading to the dentist office: 


1. Rinse out your child’s mouth with clean water.

2. If you notice swelling, place a cold compress on the child’s cheek where the injury has occurred.

3. If you have located the tooth fragment or the tooth was knocked out, place it in a cup of milk (not water) and bring it with you. 


The dentists at Greater Houston Pediatric Dentistry will determine the appropriate dental treatment, and you will receive instructions on how to care for your child’s repaired tooth when you return home. 


PEDIATRIC GINGIVITIS AND GUM DISEASE

Gingivitis is the most common type of gum disease in children. Fortunately, it is the mildest form of gum disease and the symptoms are easy to detect. Your child’s gums may look red, feel swollen and tender, and bleed easily during brushing and flossing. The good news? With consistent brushing and flossing — and regular cleanings by a dental hygienist — gingivitis is treatable.


EXCESSIVE THUMB SUCKING

If your young child is a thumb sucker, there is no need for immediate concern. Thumb sucking is not such a concern for children until their permanent teeth begin to develop. However, the intensity and length of time your child sucks their thumb impacts the severity of dental problems that may develop. 


Common problems that occur due to thumb sucking include: 

1. The upper jaw extending out too far 

2. The upper front teeth extending upward and out, which is also called an overbite

3. A gap between the upper and lower teeth where they should meet in a bite

4. The formation of a lisp


If your child is still sucking their thumb as baby teeth are coming in, talk to your dentist at Greater Houston Pediatric Dentistry about recommended treatment options. In some cases, the dentist may choose to monitor your thumb sucker’s dental development more closely before recommending a treatment plan.


ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS

By age 7, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have their first orthodontic evaluation. At this age, most children have developed their first permanent molars. These adult molars establish the back bite and at that time the orthodontist is able to get a good idea of how their bite is shaping up. 


Common bite problems that children can develop include:

Crossbite - Some of the bottom teeth sit in front of the top teeth when the mouth is closed.

Crowding - Teeth may overlap, twist or become blocked out of line. Crowded teeth are hard to keep clean and can lead to more tooth decay. 

Open Bite - The teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed. This can make it difficult to bite into food and chew properly. 

Overbite - The upper teeth are too far forward in relation to the lower teeth. When the space is too large, it can lead to jaw pain, chewing difficulties and make the front teeth more susceptible to injury. 

Underbite - The lower teeth are in front of the top teeth when the mouth is closed. Early detection is key to preventing the need for corrective jaw surgery and extensive treatment when the patient is older. 


There are important benefits of early orthodontic treatment and evaluation. Your pediatric dentist can advise you if they believe further orthodontic evaluation is needed for your child. 


CONCLUSION

The best way to help your child keep a sparkling smile is by being a positive role model and practicing healthy habits. Brushing and flossing with your child regularly and making sure they don’t miss their dental appointments are excellent ways to promote healthy dental habits for life.


By teaching your children these healthy habits and partnering with your Greater Houston Pediatric dentist, your children can avoid many of these common dental problems. If you have any concerns about your child’s oral health or development, please consult your dentist at your next appointment. 

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