Did you know that 1 in every 5 children between the ages of 5 and 11 have an untreated cavity? Or that as much as 30% of children will develop bruxism (teeth grinding) at some stage in their development? Shocking as those statistics can be—especially for concerned parents—they’re very much true.
From the time that they come screaming into the world until they’ve shed their last baby tooth, just about all children will face some sort of dental problem. Whether it’s periodontal disease, dry mouth or tooth decay, kids aren’t immune to the smile-dampening effects of a lack of dental care. There are even some dental problems that mostly affect kids because of their diet and lifestyle.
Fortunately, if vigilant parents know what to look out for then they can improve their child’s dental and oral health and avoid some of the most common dental problems in children and teens.
1. Tooth Decay or Dental Caries
Dental caries—or what most people simply call cavities—are likely the most common problem that children will face.
In essence, cavities are the result of poor oral and dental hygiene. Cavities occur when a buildup of plaque in the mouth erodes the protective enamel coating on the exterior of our teeth.
The bacteria that make up plaque and tartar thrive in mouths with plenty of food particles to feed off of. Those bacteria are particularly fond of the sugary and starchy foods that kids themselves enjoy. For that reason alone, pediatric dentists stress the importance of twice daily brushing and flossing for kids just as they would for adults.
Ensuring that your child brushes their teeth, flosses and uses a child-safe mouthwash is the surest way to prevent cavities and fortify their teeth and gums. Nevertheless, parents can offer their children an added defense against cavities with dental sealants.
The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that dental sealants can prevent 80% of cavities. Both the CDC and the American Dental Association recommend dental sealants for baby teeth and permanent teeth to prevent cavities and reduce the risk of related oral diseases.
2. Pediatric Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is most prevalent in adults. According to the CDC, nearly half of all adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease—and the statistics only become grimmer as the age demographic increases. That’s not to say, however, that children are immune to this common oral affliction.
Just like with dental caries, gum disease in children is almost always the result of poor dental and oral hygiene. Once again, ensuring that your child brushes and flosses their teeth twice daily is the best way to ward off an infection in their gums.
When children are teeth or when they begin to lose their baby teeth, they will be more suspectable to infection. Swollen, red, inflamed or painful gums are all symptoms that parents can keep an eye out for.
3. Sensitive Teeth
It’s not unusual for children—and even adults—to express some degree of tooth sensitivity to extreme hot or extreme cold. In fact, some measure of sensitivity in our teeth is a sign of a healthy mouth and can signal to us that what we’re eating or drinking is causing damage.
However, our teeth should never be so sensitive that it causes discomfort. In children, as in adults, sensitive teeth are usually an indication of an underlying issue. Tooth decay, enamel erosion (permanent or temporary), bruxism, cracked or otherwise damaged teeth and even orthodontic treatments can all lead to sensitive teeth.
Regular visits to the dentist’s office—twice annually—are the best way to keep an eye on your child’s dental health. Pediatric dentists have plenty of experience in treating children’s most common dental problems, including sensitive teeth and know what to look out for.
4. Dental Emergencies and Injuries
When children engage in play and sports, they often times do so with reckless abandon. While we, as adults, might envy them their free spirits, we’re more cautious because we understand the potential dangers.
Scrapes and bruises are all part of growing up but dental injuries can have life-long effects on your child’s priceless smile. Cracked and chipped teeth, fractured roots and tooth intrusions all pose serious risks to your child’s dental health.
There are some strategies that parents can use to reduce their child’s risk of dental injuries but part of any good plan is knowing that accidents happen. When you are seeking out a pediatric dentist for your child, make sure that they offer emergency services.
It’s difficult to qualify dental malocclusions as dental “problems” as many—if not most—of them don’t present any risks to function or health. Most children with mild overbites, for example, won’t need to undergo corrective orthodontic treatments such as braces or mouthguards. Severe underbites, however, can do more than just dampen smiles.
As with sensitive teeth, regular trips to the dentist’s office are the best defence against life-altering malocclusions. Around the age of 7 or 8, your pediatric dentist will begin to pay closer attention to your child’s oral and facial development. They’ll keep an eye out for conditions such as overcrowding, gaps and open bites.
With malocclusions as with most other dental problems, early treatment is always the best strategy.
Pediatric Dentists in the GTA
At Treehouse Dental, we measure our success by the luminosity of your child’s smile. With over 40 years’ worth of experience in pediatric dentistry in the Greater Toronto Area, there isn’t a dental problem that we haven’t seen before and can’t correct. Click here to learn more about our services or find our dental office nearest to you.