A Parent’s Guide to Early Childhood Dental Issues

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Caring for your child’s dental health begins at birth, before any teeth are visible. It is important to adequately take care of your child’s teeth and gums early in life if you want to set a good foundation for good dental health in the years to come.

There are many dental concerns to look out for in this seemingly innocent time.

Below are common dental issues that occur in early childhood and what you can do to minimize their adverse effects on your child’s healthy tooth and gum development:

  1. Bottles and Tooth Decay

Pay attention to how much formula, juice and milk you give your child. These all contain high doses of sugar which can lead to cavities. After your child has had juice, formula or milk, have them drink some water and gently clean their teeth and gums. Never put your child to bed with a bottle containing anything besides water.

  1. Thumb Sucking

It is natural and normal for infants and young children to suck their thumbs. Potential dental issues can arise if your child continues sucking his or her thumb past age 5. Prolonged thumb sucking can cause misalignments of the teeth and jaws that may lead to additional dental work and issues later in life.

There are many techniques that can be used to help your child stop sucking his or thumb including rewarding him or her when they don’t suck their thumbs and wrapping their thumb in a bandage and covering it with something that tastes bitter or unpleasant.

  1. Tongue Thrusting During Swallowing

Some children thrust their tongues forward when they swallow. Not only is this an inefficient and incorrect way to swallow, but the constant forward thrusting of the tongue can cause jaw and teeth alignment problems in the future. Severe overbite issues can lead to speech impairment.

Your child should see a dentist and/or a speech pathologist to help correct the issue and teach them another swallowing method.

  1. Tooth Loss

Your child’s baby teeth will be growing in as little as a few months after birth. All the baby teeth will have erupted (come up through the gums) by the time he or she is 2 years old. From 4 until age 11 or 12, their baby teeth will fall out to make room for their adult permanent teeth growing in underneath them.

Sometimes baby teeth may fall out prematurely, causing gaps along the gum line. Neighboring teeth may shift into this gap, causing the teeth to become crooked. This is a problem because the permanent teeth will be more likely to grow in crooked. Teeth crowding may also result of the crooked teeth.

Crooked and/or crowded teeth can cause eating and speech impairments as well as TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder).

If you notice your child’s baby teeth falling out prematurely, have the issue looked at by a dentist. The dentist may utilize a space maintainer to keep the gap open for the permanent tooth.

It is important to get your child’s dental health off to a great start. Being mindful of your child’s sugar intake, length of thumb sucking, premature losing of baby teeth and tongue thrusting will help prevent your child from future dental work and dental issues.

It is recommended that your child is seen by a dentist by the age of 1 and have their first twice yearly cleaning by the age of 2. If you want to help your child’s dental health get off to a great start, a dentist visit every six months is crucial.

If it is time for your child to have a dental cleaning and exam, contact us at Out of This World Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.

 

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  • It’s interesting that baby bottles can actually cause tooth decay if used improperly. I didn’t realize that it’s so important to keep a baby’s teeth clean but it makes sense that constant contact with a dirty bottle could cause them to wear out prematurely. I’ll have to remember this because simple measures like this could help protect his teeth as he grows up.

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