Children’s Oral Health – A Few Common Dental Problems in Children

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Childhood is a period of curiosity, growth, and exploration. During these early years of discovery, children often tend to try foods that aren’t necessarily the best selection when it comes to good dental care. Gummy candies, sugar-laden sweets, ice cream, irregular brushing, and missing visits to the dentist all lead to oral health problems. 

As a parent, knowing some of the common dental issues will help you identify the potential problem and improve the oral health of your children. Some of the most common dental health issues in children include the following. 

Tooth Decay 

Around 20% of children in the US between the ages of 5 and 11 suffer from tooth decay. And the untreated and persistent condition continues well into adulthood among 13% of adolescents. In Australia, the problem is much more severe. Half of all 12-year-olds have decay in their permanent teeth. This dental problem accounts for more than hundreds and thousands of lost school days throughout the world. 

Tooth decay is caused by poor oral hygiene. This includes irregular brushing and not seeing a dentist regularly. Unhealthy, carbohydrate-rich diets which include soda, juices, and canned fruit is also one of the main culprits of tooth decay. All these factors allow a certain type of bacteria to thrive in the mouth. As a result, a sticky build-up known as plaque can be seen in the mouth. Over time, when exposed to food, plaque produces acid which erodes the outer layer of the tooth (known as enamel). Eventually, the inner layers of the teeth continue to get affected by the plaque, which gradually leads to tooth decay. 

On a positive note, tooth decay is a preventable condition. Proper brushing, flossing, gargling with a germ-killing product, a healthy diet, and regular visits to a dentist can help reduce the chances of a child developing this condition. It is important to brush properly twice a day with a fluoride-rich toothpaste. Also, ensure that children as young as two years old floss their teeth regularly. As a parent, you need to make sure that your child avoids sugary foods, especially before bedtime. 

Bad Breath 

Bad breath is another common dental issue. This is not only common among children but affects people of all ages. Often, bad breath is a result of the foods we consume. Foods with a strong smell such as garlic can lead to bad breath. But if this is a persistent issue, it is an indication of some other underlying issues. 

Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is caused by bacteria that resides in the mouth. These bacteria live in colonies and survive on leftover food particles and plaque. As they eat food, they produce hydrogen sulfide which results in bad breath. The problem is most common in children in the morning. But in case bad breath is a cause of concern throughout the day, it is an indication of some larger issue. Sometimes, it can be a result of other oral conditions, such as gum problems, poor hygiene and problems of the digestive system. 

One of the best ways to prevent the problem of bad breath is regular and proper brushing. It is important to brush the tongue as well to remove the bacteria in the mouth. The use of antibacterial mouthwash can also help reduce this problem. If the problem persists throughout the day, you should get a dentist’s appointment for your child. 

Tooth Sensitivity 

Another most common dental issue in children in tooth sensitivity. This happens when the top layer of the tooth gets damaged by bacteria.

This layer is known as enamel which helps to protect the inner parts of the tooth and nerves from getting damaged by the bacteria. When the enamel gets eroded away by this bacteria, it can expose the inner parts and nerve endings of the teeth. As a result, the tooth becomes more sensitive to cold and heat. If a child has tooth sensitivity, hot and cold food and drinks will cause irritation and discomfort. But in more severe cases where teeth are extremely sensitive, even breathing in hot and cold air can cause pain. 

Anyone regardless of age can have tooth sensitivity, but the problem is more common among children. This is because their enamel is thinner compared to adults. Also since their diet includes too many carbohydrates, it results in damage to the enamel along with a buildup of plaque. While tooth sensitivity is primarily caused by damage to the enamel, other problems such as cavities can also lead to tooth sensitivity. 

Just like most other dental problems, tooth sensitivity can be treated. However, this time good oral hygiene practices alone won’t help much and you will need to see the dentist. Dentists often recommend the application of fluoride sealant to the teeth. This helps reduce sensitivity and strengthens tooth enamel. Also, it is recommended that children use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Using a toothbrush with hard bristles can damage the surface of the teeth over time. 

Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy 

The solution to all dental issues in children lies in maintaining proper oral hygiene and visiting the dentist on a regular basis. Regular brushing and other oral hygiene practices such as flossing and the use of mouthwash will help you keep dental problems to a minimum. But in case something arises, a visit to the dentist can certainly allow you to diagnose and treat the potential dental problem.