6 Early Childhood Dental Health Issues and How to Deal with Them

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Guest Blogger, Shen Chao

There are a lot of problems that affect your child’s dental health such as early loss of teeth, lip sucking, tongue thrusting, thumb sucking and tooth decay. Maintaining your child’s baby teeth in good health and proper alignment is important to your child’s overall health in the long term.

Here are 6 early dental health issues that children face and how to prevent them:

  1. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

What and How: Baby tooth decay is also known as early childhood caries which occurs due to your baby’s teeth staying in prolonged contact with sugary drinks like sugary water, formula, milk and fruit juices.

The sugar is broken down in your mouth which produces a byproduct of acid which wears down the minerals found in your tooth enamel which further leads to tooth decay.

Solution: You can prevent tooth decay by:

  1. Give your baby a pacifier or a bottle filled with plain water instead of milk or sugary drinks.
  2. Don’t let your baby’s pacifier come into contact with any sugary liquid.
  3. Don’t ever let your baby sleep with a bottle full of any sugary liquid. Only give them a small amount of water or a pacifier instead.
  4. Remove your breast from your baby’s mouth after he/she falls asleep.
  5. Avoid adding sugar to your baby’s food.
  6. Wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a gauze or wet cloth after feeding.
  7. Consult your dentist about your child’s fluoride requirements. You may have to fluoridate your water if necessary.
  8. Teach your baby to start drinking from a cup by their first birthday at the earliest. Moving on to a sippy cup reduces your child’s teeth’s exposure to sugars.

 

  1. Thumb Sucking

What and How: It’s very difficult to find an infant that doesn’t suck on something, whether it be their pacifier, their fingers or their toys. Sucking on an object just when your baby’s teeth are erupting can throw your baby’s teeth out of alignment, causing them to have protruding or crooked teeth as well as leading to overbites. It can also teach your children to eat incorrectly and cause speech problems.

Solution: Thumb sucking isn’t such a big problem until your child’s permanent teeth begin erupting. Once your child’s adult teeth start erupting, you should encourage your child to stop sucking his thumb. This can be a bit difficult as sucking your thumb is generally a coping and safety mechanism that can have the opposite of its intended effect, pushing your child to suck his thumb even more.

Try and praise your child for refraining from sucking his thumb and follow it up with a reward. You can then slowly begin to increase the time that your child has to avoid sucking his/her thumb to get the reward.

  1. Lip Sucking and Tongue Thrusting

What and How: Tongue thrusting is the habit of sealing the mouth for swallowing by pushing the top of the tongue forward against the lips. Tongue thrusting puts extra pressure against the front teeth, which can push them out of alignment, this leads to interference with proper speech as well as creating an overbite.

Lip sucking also involves repeatedly holding your lower lip beneath the upper front teeth. Sucking the lower lip can occur on its own or in combination with thumb sucking. This practice leads to an overbite and the same types of tongue thrusting and thumb sucking.

Solution: You can stop the habit with the same technique that is required for stopping thumb sucking – positive reinforcement.

  1. Over Retained Baby Teeth

What and How: A baby tooth that is still in place with a permanent tooth trying to erupt underneath is usually termed as an “over-retained” tooth, which requires its removal. The presence of still having primary teeth in adults and teenagers can be a potential problem such as impacted permanent teeth or congenitally missing teeth.

Solution: The earlier you get diagnosed the better the chances of healing. Regular dental appointments allow your dentist to actively monitor your child’s oral growth and development.

  1. Orthodontic Problems and Teeth Grinding

What and How: A bite that does not meet properly is known as a malocclusion. It can either be acquired or inherited. Certain causes of malocclusion are misaligned jaws, crowded teeth, extra or even missing teeth. Accidents or developmental issues such as thumb or finger sucking for extended periods can cause malocclusions.

Solution: TMJ treatment such as occlusal splint therapy and night guards can be worn to prevent your child from grinding his teeth.

  1. Early Tooth Loss 

What and How: If your child loses their baby teeth before their permanent teeth erupt, it is usually caused by lack of jaw space, injury or tooth decay. If the baby teeth are left untreated, the rest of the teeth can crowd into the space that is intended for the permanent tooth.

Solution: To improve your child’s dental health, you need to first prevent your child from suffering from tooth decay for which you need to set an oral hygiene routine from a young age if you want your child to avoid tooth loss. Nutrition plays a large role in our oral health so try to feed your children sugar-free foods as much as possible. If your child’s tooth happens to fall out early, then your dentist will suggest the use of a space maintainer, a metal or plastic application that is designed to hold the space left by the missing teeth till the permanent tooth erupts.

Author Bio:

Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Dental Clinic in Goodyear, AZ. While working for the dental clinic, he’s gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he’s not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.

 

Childhood Fears: 4 Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Fear of the Dentist

Childhood Fears 4 Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Fear of the Dentist

Guest Blogger, Kara Masterson

Many children are scared of the dentist. It is a common issue that you should try to help your kid overcome. The following are four tips that might help you and your children.

Starts with You

One of the first things you have to remember is that dental anxiety affects more than just kids. Children are really good at picking up any anxiety coming from parents, so it is vital that you deal with your own anxiety first. You can talk to your dentist beforehand, or have your child visit the dentist with a family member who does not fear the dentist to avoid passing on this fear to your kid.

A Peaceful Scent

Some people may not love the scent of lavender, but it could work wonders for your child. It seems that the natural scent of lavender induces a relaxing feeling within the mind. This has been shown to be powerful enough to reduce some of the symptoms associated with dental anxiety. You can make your own lavender fragrance using an essential oil, or purchase one through an online vendor. Make sure that it is natural lavender to ensure these effects.

Meet and Greet

Next thing you want to try is to have your child meet your dentist ahead of time. Talk to your dentist beforehand to make sure that he or she is aware of your child’s anxiety. A dentist like A-Dental Center or someone similar will likely go over some of the procedures and help your child become familiar with the dentist’s office. One of the reasons some children feel anxious is because they are in unfamiliar territory, which is why this type of meeting is helpful at times.

Bring a Distraction

Sometimes, the best way to deal with the particular problem is to bring a distraction, or find a way to help your child distract him or herself during the visit. You can do this by bringing your child’s favorite toy along or giving your kid a smart device to entertain him or herself. You can also try to train your child to imagine a happy place, which should help him or her deal with scary things a little better.

Hopefully, some of these tips help your kid overcome his or her fear. Keep in mind that fears are not always cured but rather dealt with, so do not expect miracles. Make sure to work with your dentist because he or she will likely know a thing or two about dental anxiety.

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What is the Best Age For a Child to See an Orthodontist?

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Guest Blogger, Dr. Updike from Updike Orthodontics

While the most common image of someone in braces is a teenager, children should actually see an orthodontist much earlier than their teen years.

When you picture someone in an orthodontist’s chair, do you picture a teenager, getting his or her braces adjusted? While the image of a teenager with a mouth full of metal is commonplace, children should actually visit an orthodontist for the first time right around the seventh birthday.

“The American Association of Orthodontists recommends seven as the ideal time for children to have their first consultation with an orthodontist,” says Irvine orthodontist Dr. Sophia Updike. “Parents might think this seems young, but it’s actually the ideal time for us to observe what is currently happening in the mouth, and what will happen as the child grows. Then, we can determine if any interventive treatment is needed, and begin at precisely the correct time to have the most impact.”

Orthodontists work to ensure that your child’s smile is not just beautifully straight, but will function properly, too. The goal of orthodontic treatment is to ensure teeth are straight and jaws are properly aligned, and the earlier an orthodontist can begin to observe what is happening in your child’s mouth, the better.

“The baby teeth lay the groundwork for the permanent teeth,” says Dr. Updike. “Seven is the ideal time for us to get a picture of what is happening in your child’s mouth. We can make sure the baby teeth are falling out the way they should, and check to be sure there is adequate room for the permanent teeth to erupt properly.”

But more than that, an orthodontist can determine if there are any underlying issues that could pose a potential problem. The teeth may look straight to you, but there may be problems that could worsen as the child gets older. Deep bites, open bites, crossbites, crowding and spacing issues and other problems can be more easily corrected while the child’s jaw is still growing.

By the time your child turns seven, he or she will most likely have enough of a mix between permanent and baby teeth to evaluate and ensure everything is developing as it should. Parents should not wait until all permanent teeth have erupted to schedule the first orthodontic consultation. There are also some habits and other indicators that parents should be on the lookout for, including:

  • Baby teeth fall out too early or too late
  • Problems chewing or biting
  • Sucks thumb or uses pacifier for extended time period
  • Problems speaking
  • Grinds or clenches teeth
  • Teeth look crowded or misplaced

If you are from Irvine, Tustin, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Orange County, Lake Forest, CA areas and your child is seven or older and has not had a consultation with an orthodontist yet, call Updike Orthodontics today at 949-870-9713. Dr. Updike works with patients of all ages and can help parents determine the right time to begin treatment to ensure a beautiful, healthy smile that will last a lifetime.

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