5 Common Oral Health Problems & How to Prevent Them
Most parents work hard to help their children prevent cavities. However, there are other types of oral health problems that can pose a risk to your child’s smile. Let’s take a look at five common oral health issues and what steps your child can take to avoid them.
1. Tooth Decay
, also known as caries or tooth decay, are preventable. While cavities might not endanger your child’s life, they may negatively impact their quality of life.
When teeth and gums are regularly exposed to large amounts of starches and sugars, acids may form that begin to eat away at tooth enamel. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as candy, cookies, soft drinks, and even fruit juices leave deposits on teeth. Those deposits bond with the bacteria that normally survive in the mouth and form plaque. The combination of deposits and plaque forms acids that can damage the mineral structure of teeth, resulting in tooth decay.
To prevent cavities, good oral hygiene is key. Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day for two minutes and flosses daily. If they are not old enough to brush their own teeth, ask our pediatric dentists about what steps you as a parent can take to protect your child’s oral health.
2. Sensitive Teeth
Did you know your teeth expand and contract in reaction to changes in temperature? While some amount of temporary discomfort is normal with temperature changes, sensitive teeth react more strongly to these changes. For example, hot and cold food and beverages can cause pain or irritation to people with sensitive teeth.
Over time, tooth enamel can be worn down, gums may recede, or teeth may develop microscopic cracks, exposing the interior of the tooth and irritating nerve endings. Just breathing cold air can be painful for those with extremely sensitive teeth.
Gum health is particularly important in preventing sensitive teeth. Make sure your child is seeing the dentist at least twice a year to monitor their gum health.
3. Gum Disease
, also known as periodontal disease, can cause inflammation, tooth loss, and bone damage.
Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of the disease, also known as gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, teeth may fall out or need to be removed by a dentist.
Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
4. Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Daily brushing and flossing help to prevent the buildup of food particles, plaque, and bacteria in your mouth. Food particles left in the mouth deteriorate and cause bad breath.
While certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies, may create temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease or another dental problem. If your child is struggling with bad breath, schedule an appointment with our pediatric dentists.
5. Orthodontic Problems
A bite that does not meet properly (a malocclusion) can be inherited, or some types may be acquired. Some causes of malocclusion include missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth, or misaligned jaws. Accidents or developmental issues, such as finger or thumb sucking over an extended period of time, may cause malocclusions.
There are orthodontic solutions, such as braces and aligners, that can help if your child is struggling with malocclusions. To prevent a malocclusion in the first place, make sure the growth and development of your child’s teeth are monitored regularly by our dentists, and encourage your child to wear a sports mouth guard to prevent athletic injuries.