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Most common dental problems for children and their treatments

Dental problems affect people of all ages; however, children are more susceptible to some dental issues than others. As children’s teeth are still developing and comparatively softer, staying on top of their dental health is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, untreated dental complications could lead to long-term problems like misalignment, plaque buildup, cavities, and much more.

That’s why understanding command dental problems that are likely to affect children is the best solution to prevent them. Here are the most common dental problems that occur in children, accompanied by their treatments:

1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, also known as cavities, is children's most prevalent dental problem. It occurs when the bacteria in mouth produce harmful acids that end up chipping away at the tooth enamel. Young children are only adept at brushing and flossing if supervised. Moreover, children are more likely to frequently consume sugary foods and drinks, which ends up becoming a major issue.

To treat tooth decay in children, dentists remove the decayed portion of that tooth and fill the hole with a hard composite material. This treatment is called tooth filling. In some cases, a dental crown may also be put in. To prevent tooth decay in the future, dentists may also recommend fluoride treatment and dental sealants.

2. Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth are not only uncomfortable, but they can also be distracting. They end up disrupting your child’s everyday routine or pulling them from focusing on their studies. In children, tooth sensitivity is caused due to multiple reasons like cavities, enamel wear, teeth grinding, missing filling, and more.

There are multiple treatments available for sensitive teeth which help reduce your child’s pain and discomfort. Treatment will depend mostly on the root cause of the sensitivity. Dentists may suggest using a desensitizing toothpaste or offer in-clinic fluoride treatments to help strengthen the tooth. Tooth sensitivity is usually linked to a dental problem, so it’s advisable to take your child to the dentist immediately.

3. Gingivitis and Gum Diseases

There’s a general misconception that gum disease is a problem faced by adults. However, that’s not the case. Gingivitis or gum disease can also occur in children and is one of the most common reasons to visit a pediatric dentist . Gingivitis, or gum disease, happens when gums are inflamed due to bacterial infection, leading to red, swollen, or bleeding gums. It is usually caused by plaque buildup, poor oral hygiene, or a pre-existing medical condition.

The treatment for gum disease in children ranges from professional dental clearing to removing plaque and tartar buildup. Dentists may also prescribe antibiotics and antimicrobial mouthwash to minimize infection. Usually, gum diseases in children can be avoided if parents ensure their kids are brushing and flossing daily. But if your kid shows signs of gum disease, it is essential to address it promptly, as it can cause irreparable tooth loss if left untreated.

4. Thumb Sucking

Infants and toddlers can usually be seen sucking their thumbs or a pacifier. It is natural for them to calm themselves and is not generally a cause for concern. However, it becomes a problem if the child grows older and still continues with the habit. Prolonged thumb sucking can hinder a child’s teeth development. Considering this, parents should discourage their children from thumb-sucking once they’re over 2-3 years of age.

Chronic thumb sucking and use of pacifiers result in an open bite. An open bite is a dental problem when the upper front teeth don’t align with the lower front teeth, thus leaving a gap when the mouth is closed. This can damage your child’s ability to bite and chew. If your child is still into the habit of thumb sucking when they’re well into their 5th year, you should consult a dentist to help break the habit.

5. Damaged Tooth in Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can’t be predicted. Children love playing outdoors, and activities like cycling, roughhousing with friends, and playing soccer could, unfortunately, result in a dental accident. Kids could either chip or crack their teeth or maybe even lose one completely.

Parents should set an appointment with the dentist immediately in case of dental emergencies. If the child ends up knocking out one of their permanent teeth, then you can place it in a saline solution or clear water and take it with you to the dentist. Doing so may help dentists reattach the tooth with the help of a retainer.

6. Misalignment

Also medically known as malocclusion, misalignment or improper positioning of teeth is a common problem in growing children. It can occur due to genetic factors, prolonged pacifier use, improper jaw development, or thumb sucking. Misalignment of teeth can lead to difficulties in biting, chewing, and even speaking.

The treatment for misalignment in children depends on the severity of the case. Parents can consult orthodontists, who may then advise for treatments like braces, retainers, or clear aligners. In some instances, dentists may also recommend tooth extraction to create space for alignment.

To sum it up, dental problems in children, if left untreated, can significantly impact their oral health. Gum disease, dental trauma, and tooth decay are some of the most common dental problems plaguing children. That’s why seeking professional dental care, maintaining good oral hygiene practices, and following preventive measures can help promote optimal oral health in children.