Every parent knows how important it is to take their kids to the pediatrician, but the dentist is a different story. Some people think of dental problems as something that doesn’t happen until a child is older. Others don’t think dental care is important for “baby teeth” because they’ll fall out eventually anyway.
In reality, dental problems are common among kids. If left untreated, they can cause infections, discomfort, and more problems as your child gets older. If you’re a parent, these are the most common dental problems to look out for in kids of any age.
Most Common Dental Problems in Kids
For parents, knowing what to look for can make a difference in any area of their child’s health. Here are the most common pediatric dental issues you should know about:
1. Tooth Decay
While cavities can develop slowly, they happen in kids more often than parents realize. In fact, 40% of kids between the ages of two and five have at least one cavity.
It’s difficult to detect a cavity with the naked eye in its early stages. That’s why it’s important to keep up with regular dental cleanings. If a cavity is caught early, a filling will treat it. In more severe cases, a pediatric crown may be necessary.
2. Tooth Sensitivity
Every tooth is covered by a thin layer of tooth enamel which protects its bacteria. If that enamel is too thin or wears away, it leaves the tooth vulnerable to decay. It also makes it sensitive to cold and heat.
Tooth sensitivity can happen to anyone. However, primary teeth have thinner enamel than permanent teeth, so kids are especially prone to sensitivity.
3. Loosened Teeth from Injuries
For kids who play sports or just enjoy running and jumping, accidents can happen. It’s not uncommon for an injury to damage or loosen a child’s tooth.
Most parents think of loose primary teeth as a non-issue because they assume the tooth is making room for a permanent tooth. If it happens due to an injury, though, a loose tooth needs treatment.
Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the tooth maybe require a crown or a root canal. If the permanent tooth isn’t too far behind, your dentist may extract the injured tooth and place a space to save room until the permanent tooth grows in.
4. Early Gum Disease
While gum disease affects adults more frequently, it can happen to kids as well. If your child’s gums are red and swollen, you need to treat the gum disease right away to prevent more serious problems in the future.
Specialized pediatric dental cleanings can help to treat gum disease. Your child may need to use specialized rinses or cleaning techniques at home as well.
5. Tooth Misalignment
The medical term for a dental misalignment is a malocclusion. This can be inherited or it can happen naturally without explanation. In some cases, extended thumb sucking can lead to a malocclusion.
If your child has a misalignment, orthodontic treatment may be the best treatment when your child has reached an appropriate age.
Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy
The key to nearly all of the issues above is prevention. Keeping up with your child’s oral health at home and consistent cleanings will keep dental problems to a minimum and set up your child for a healthier future.
If it’s time for your child’s next dental visit, schedule an appointment with our pediatric dentists.
Dr. Perez has been in the private practice of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics for almost 30 years. He has been educated in top universities around the world, receiving training in the United States, Spain and Mexico. He is currently a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Perez is fluent in both Spanish and English.