child oral health

Common dental problems in children

Ensuring dental health and hygiene is going the right way is often a worry for parents. Teaching children the very basics of oral hygiene and care, making the right food choices for oral health and seeking efficient dental care from experts are some of the main concerns every parent has.

Dental health in children is important as this lays the foundation for healthier adult dental health. Milk teeth give way to permanent teeth when a child grows, so to assume that one needs to take care of teeth only when they are adults is a very wrong notion. Dental health and hygiene and the habits practiced in childhood are the basis for dental health in each person.

Decaying teeth

Tooth decay is seen very commonly in children. Around 20% of children between the age of five and age eleven have reported teeth decay. Much of this is due to the diet which is mostly sugary. Children also get attracted to all sugary chewy food and sweetened fizzy drinks that are loaded with sugar. After consuming food children might not be very mindful of thorough cleaning of the mouth. Food debris gets stuck between teeth and stays there. Bacteria get attracted to this food and acts on them and releases acids. These acids slowly work on the dental enamel and worn them off. Continued action leads to decay setting into the teeth.

The decay if unchecked will also spread to neighbouring teeth. Plaque and tartar formation are indications of decay. If corrective action is taken with proper cleaning, then tooth decay can be arrested. Making sure children brush their teeth twice a day, mostly just before they go to bed should be taught. Flossing should also be taught to children – they can follow this routine along with their parents when they are young and on their own after they are capable of doing it themselves.

Habits

Children pick up many habits during their childhood. Thumb sucking is one habit many children turn to – mostly as comfort seeking habit. There is nothing alarming about this habit, children grow out of this habit as they grow up. But it damages oral health in children and that is the main worry faced. When this habit is seen in children when their permanent teeth develop, then alignment will be affected. Teeth are pushed away from their normal position due to the continued sucking of the thumb. Displaced teeth will push against other teeth and this can bring in overcrowding of teeth or issues in speech development.

Another habit that is seen in children is teeth grinding. This is usually seen when they are sleeping and many experts have seen this habit due to anxiety or any other major issues affecting the child. Some children exhibit this habit if their teeth in both jaws are not aligned properly. Excessive teeth grinding will cause pain in the jaws, neck or ear pain. This can also wear off the teeth and remove the protective dental enamel. Protective mouth guards will help in this issue.

Gum disease

Gingivitis or gum disease is the disease of the gums, this results in inflammation of the gum lining. Plaque or tartar formation can lead to this condition. The gum lining becomes inflamed, red and swollen and sometimes bleeding is also seen. Lack of personal oral hygiene can lead to this disease condition.

There are different stages in this disease and almost all stages have been noticed in children. Right from localised inflammation of the gum lining to severe bleeding and loose teeth. The good thing is that this can be prevented by practicing good hygiene practices. Making sure children brush and floss their teeth is an important factor parent can check on. Routine check-ups with dentists will help to take much needed preventive steps and boost oral health and hygiene. As children grow older, they should be taught the importance of oral health and they should also be careful of their food habits.

Canker sores

These are small sores that are seen in the tongue, inside the mouth or even the gums. They are small reddish sores with a white centre. They are quite painful and make it difficult for the children to consume food and drinks. They come on and off, they appear as a single sore or they come in groups. Dentists think allergies, nutritional deficiency, stress or infections bring out the sores. It does not spread from child to child and is quite harmless.

Some children develop sores due to excessive pressure while brushing and harming the inner mouth lining. It is best to give children soft food when they have sores as they will reduce the pain that is caused by consuming food. Checking with dentists when children have this problem is suggested. They will advise on medicines that can help children tide over this problem and bring down the infection and prevent it from recurring.

Retained baby teeth

Retaining baby teeth and not losing it ‘in time’ can bring in dental concerns. Baby teeth do not fall off and permanent teeth will also make their appearance. Due to this the child will have two teeth in the place of one. In some situations, the baby teeth do not fall off and the permanent teeth also do not make their appearance.

All these situations point towards problems in alignment, obstructions in teeth development or infection. These type of disease conditions should be checked further by a dentist. This condition can also promote tooth decay in children. This will help to understand the underlying problem and take corrective action. Checking on alignment and correcting the bite will be possible only after the teeth are fully developed. Dentists will be able to guide in this situation as each child’s oral health and development is unique.

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