All About Baby Teeth: 10 Common Problems To Watch Out For

Some children are lucky enough to never experience a cavity. However, this is not the only dental problem kids may have to face. According to the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, tooth decay is the leading chronic illness among kids. Apart from that, there are plenty of other issues little ones may have to endure even before they’ve lost their baby teeth. If not corrected, these pediatric dental problems can cause infections, misaligned teeth, and eating disorders. They can also deter proper speech, mental, and social development of the child. 

Just because they’re not permanent, doesn’t mean you have to neglect your child’s baby teeth. While it’s still early, set the stage with positive habits. To help you along the way, here are some of the most common children’s dental problems and what you can do to prevent them:

1. Tooth Decay

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that 42 percent of children ages two to 11 develop a cavity in their primary teeth. Meanwhile, about 28 percent of toddlers ages two to five have at least one cavity. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria within the mouth begin to eat away at the baby teeth. It is also known as dental caries or cavity. The usual causes of tooth decay are inadequate dental care and not brushing your child’s teeth.

To prevent tooth decay, do not let your toddler go to bed with a bottle or a sippy cup of juice or milk. If you must give anything, let it be water. Make sure you brush and floss their teeth every day. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and kid-friendly toothpaste to brush their teeth twice daily.

2. Thumb Sucking

It is normal for babies to have a sucking reflex. Within the first few months of life, a baby can become a finger sucker to fall asleep, to calm down, or to just feel good. However, if this habit continues into the older years, past the age of five, can have a negative impact on the growth of their teeth. 

Thumb sucking can lead to problems with the alignment on the jaws and teeth, formation of the roof of the mouth, and the development of speech. Use positive reinforcement when trying to deter this habit. At night, you can take their thumb out of their mouth once they have fallen asleep.

3. Bad Breath

Anyone can develop bad breath, regardless of age. The best way to prevent it is to brush the teeth twice daily and floss. However, this isn’t always solely an oral health issue. There can be other causes that need a different solution. Sinus infection can cause fluid to collect in the throat and nasal passages, making your child’s throat the perfect place for bacteria to gather. The result is a stinky breath that won’t go away with toothbrushing and mouthwash. Schedule a visit to your doctor and see if your kid needs antibiotics.

4. Grinding

Many school-aged kids suffer from a common condition called bruxism or teeth grinding. In fact, two or three out of 10 kids will clench or grind their teeth. A child may develop bruxism if their upper teeth aren’t aligned with their lower teeth. Teeth grinding can also be a response to discomfort – just as you rub a sore muscle. 

Some children will grind their teeth to alleviate an earache or pain from teething. Stress and hyperactivity may also contribute to this. Bruxism usually stops as a kid grows and doesn’t need treatment. If the habit persists, however, then wearing a nightguard should prevent the teeth from getting chipped. 

5. Canker Sores

Canker sores appear inside the mouth and not on the lips. They can be pesky and bothersome, but they’re not contagious. Many things can trigger canker sores like allergies, diet, stress, infection or trauma. They only become a concern if they stay for more than two weeks. Give your child soft and mild foods and drinks to reduce the pain of canker sores. Antimicrobial mouthwash and topical products are also available to shorten the duration of the sores.

6. Gum Disease

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums. It is often the result of poor dental habits and plaque buildup. The good news is that its preventable. With simple steps such as daily brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, you can prevent your kid from developing this condition.

7. Tooth Sensitivity

This problem affects millions of people. It’s when you experience pain or discomfort to your teeth from cold air, sweets, and hot and cold drinks or foods. Sensitive teeth can be a sign of an infection or exposed root. It’s better to let a dentist find out the source of the pain and treat it.

8. Dental Anxiety

Although dental anxiety isn’t directly related to oral health, it can make regular dental visits a frightening experience for your child. Dental anxiety can prevent him or her from growing with the right oral care to maintain healthy teeth. Choose a family dentist that focuses on dealing with children. It’s important to create a welcoming atmosphere if your kid gets nervous easily.

9. Over-Retained Primary Teeth

A primary tooth that won’t loosen can cause the permanent tooth underneath to erupt in the same space. These two units will be fighting for the same spot that’s only meant for one. In some cases, a baby tooth can remain solid for years as other teeth loosen around it. That means there might not be an adult tooth ready to replace it, so the baby tooth isn’t pushed out of the mouth. A dentist should step in to remove the primary tooth so the new tooth can develop without competition.

10. Baby Teeth Loss 

The loss of primary teeth is a natural part of development. A set of “grown-up” teeth should replace the baby teeth. Generally, molars aren’t lost until a child is between 10 and 12, and most kids have their full set of adult teeth by the time their 13 years old.

Ensuring your child’s oral health is a crucial part of his or her development. If you’re worried that your kid could be developing a dental problem, our dentists at Kyrene Family Dentistry can help. You and your family deserve expert and compassionate care. Schedule an appointment with us today.