El Cajon, CA – It is important to begin caring for your children’s teeth even before the first tooth appears above the gumline. Creating a positive oral care routine can set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health. But there are some issues that can occur, especially in children. Dr. Santiago Surillo, a pediatric dentist and orthodontist in El Cajon, explains some of the most common pediatric dental issues.
- Tooth decay, or early childhood caries, is the number one chronic childhood issue, yet they are preventable. Decay is caused by the bacteria that live in our mouths. Throughout the day, these bacteria mingle with the foods and drinks we consume. Plaque buildup and acid can damage the enamel of the teeth, leading to decay and cavities.
- Baby bottle teeth are what we refer to when decay sets in because a child always has a bottle or sippy cup with them. If your child regularly drinks milk and juices and carries them around in a bottle or cup all day, the sugars from these drinks will be in constant contact with your child’s teeth. And if there is constantly sugar in the mouth, there is constantly something for the bacteria to feed off of. Offer water as much as possible, and never send your child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup. Alternatively, breastfeeding can actually result in great oral health later in life, according to our holistic dentistry specialist, Dr. Erwin.
- Tooth grinding is often an involuntary habit, and can be a very common developmental stage of childhood. We often see this in children before their permanent teeth erupted, and for many children, it will lessen as the permanent teeth take shape. However, if it is severe or persists, it can wear down the enamel of the teeth, leading to chipping and breaking.
- Thumb-sucking is very common and isn’t cause for serious concern unless it occurs for an extended period of time. Children have a natural sucking reflex and can help provide a feeling of security and relaxation. However, if your child continues to suck his or her thumb past the preschool years, it can damage their smile and lead to orthodontic issues.
- Gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. As plaque builds up, it causes inflammation of the gums. If not treated properly, it can lead to tooth and bone loss.
- Tongue thrusting occurs when the tongue is pushed forward between the upper and lower front teeth when swallowing and is a natural reflex that will fade as children grow. If it doesn’t, it will place pressure on the teeth, pushing them forward and altering the child’s bite, often leading to the need for orthodontic treatment.
- Losing a baby tooth too early, either because of injury or decay, can cause a shift in the alignment of teeth. If a space is left open, the teeth will naturally shift to fill in the space, meaning permanent teeth may erupt improperly.
The best way to prevent these and other issues from occurring or becoming serious is to begin a relationship with a pediatric dentist. Your child should see a dentist for the first time by the age of one, or after the first tooth appears. A pediatric dentist can help you and your child with proper preventive care to ensure a beautiful, healthy smile for years to come.