Recent advances in dental care has made all of us aware about the need to be paying more attention to children’s teeth. It was not long back that parents were not very keen about taking young children to dentists for regular check-ups thinking that dental problems will be solved once the children start getting their permanent set of teeth after their deciduous teeth have fallen off, unless of course when children were in pain over their diseased teeth.
Now parents are more aware of importance of dental health and also how it can affect the future dental problems. Children can have more or less the same dental problems as adults but the dental problems during childhood have different repercussions on children’s teeth than the adults, because children’s teeth are softer and more delicate than that of an adult. Also, children are in the process of getting new set of teeth which can get disturbed if there are problems of tooth decay or crowding in the moth of affected children.
Here are a few of the dental problems which may occur during childhood. It helps to be aware about these common dental ailments so that one can prevent them from having serious effects later on.
Tooth decay is a very common dental problem across the country and the entire world among children and even adults.
A kind of bacteria lives in the mouth and grows here. These bacteria form a thin, sticky film called plaque on the teeth and it gets accumulated all the time. This film of bacteria thrives on starchy foods. The bacteria together with starch and sugar produce acid as a by-product of sugar breakdown. This acid then eats away at the tooth enamel which is the protective cover of the tooth.
The sticky substance constantly keeps the acids in touch with the enamel which ultimately results in decayed tooth. This decay is totally preventable.
Carbohydrate rich diet like pasta, bread, rice and even fizzy drinks, chocolate, candies can leave tiny food particles on the teeth and in the mouth. If the child is instructed to brush and floss regularly, then there wouldn’t be any starches in the mouth for bacteria to work on, and too decay may be prevented.
Gum diseases are also called periodontal disease. Gingivitis is type of gum disease where plaque and tarter gather on the base of the tooth and distress gums. Initially the child’s gums may look red and inflamed, and bleed while brushing and flossing.
Bad breadth also is a sign of gum disease. The basic oral hygiene is necessary to prevent the gums from getting gingivitis and getting painful.
Bad breadth is also called halitosis. Sometimes bad breadth results from the smell of the food that was consumed. But chronic bad breadth is a sign of other deeper issues ailing the teeth and gums.
The cause of bad breadth is the bacteria that live in our mouth. They eat the remnants of food left in the mouth and produce hydrogen sulfide as they breakdown the carbohydrate. This chemical smells bad. Bad breadth is common in adults and children when they wake up in the morning because the bacteria multiply during the night. But if this smell persists during the day, then it could be due to poor oral hygiene, and dry mouth.
There are many other causes for bad breadth like medication for some other illness, chronic sinusitis, or diabetes. A good regime of oral dental care is a basic step to rule out mouth bacteria and plaque build-up.
When cold or hot foods and fluids cause discomfort to the child, he has sensitive teeth. Sensitivity in teeth indicates a more serious problem. Children have a thinner layer of enamel than adults. It gets worn out by plaque and bacteria easily.
When the enamel is eaten away, the teeth develop minute cracks and expose the gums and nerve endings. These nerve endings are triggered while eating hot or cold foods. This is an extremely painful situation.
Many a times, sensitivity in teeth is an indicator of cavities and tooth decay. This is preventable with good dental hygiene habits. The dentists apply sealants to the teeth to strengthen the enamel and filling cracks. Hard tooth brushes may further damage the tooth enamel that is why children should be allowed soft tooth brushes.
Many children have the habit of sucking their thumb or fingers in babyhood. It is okay to have this habit for a baby or infant because it gives a certain kind of comfort and security feeling. But if this habit continues in childhood years, it has wide range of repercussions in growing permanent teeth.
Thumb sucking can derail the normal oral development which may affect proper alignment of teeth and roof of the moth. Strong and intense thumb sucking can cause damage to temporary and permanent teeth structures. If children persist thumb sucking well into their fifth year, your dentist may suggest ways and support to break the habit.
Thrusting the tongue out while eating is the habit which is used by some children to swallow food. Like thumb sucking, sucking the tongue can also exert pressure on the front teeth causing them to be pushed out. This causes them to misalign and protruding teeth. Apart from misaligned teeth, it may cause speech problems also.
The child develops this habit of sucking lower lip beneath the front upper teeth resulting in overbite and protruding teeth. If the child doesn’t let go of this habit by age 4, the dentist may suggest ways to get rid of the habit.
Bruxism as grinding the teeth is called, is a common condition in school age children. Grinding occurs because the upper teeth are not aligned with lower teeth. Some children grind teeth as a response to pain or discomfort in the teeth while teething or an earache. It can be sign of hyper active child while in stress or excitement. Usually bruxism stops as the child grows. But if it persists, it may wear away permanent teeth which can result in worn out enamel resulting in pain and sensitive teeth. A night guard device can help the child from grinding teeth.
Sores in the mouth
Canker sores or ulcers in the mouth, or gums and tongue are painful but not contagious. They make food intake very painful and difficult. Exact cause is not ascertained by doctors for canker sores, but it can be due to diet, stress or trauma, allergies and infection. The sores may disappear in 2 to 3 weeks. Soft and mild foods without spice help at this time. Refrain from giving acidic foods which may aggravate the sores. Anti-microbial mouthwash can help.
Loss of baby teeth
Around the age of six the first front middle tooth is generally loosens and falls off. It is a natural process, without serious pain and happens in the course of about 5 to 7 years. By the time the child is about 13 years of age. But for some times the tooth does not fall off. The dentist needs to be consulted when a tooth falls off prematurely, or if they do not fall off. Over retained tooth also affects permanent teeth. To stop permanent teeth to develop without crowding and misaligned, it is advisable to consult a dentist in time.