Toddlers and Children are highly susceptible to dental disease. It is important to address these issue to maintain optimal health as the mouth is the gateway tot the rest of the body. An unhealthy mouth can lead to other healthy issues in the body. It is important to take top notch care of the mouth and baby teeth. Baby teeth serve an important function of maintaining space until the permanent teeth are ready to erupt.
Here are common dental disease in early childhood
1. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: This commonly occurs when baby teeth are exposed to sugars especially at night. This is seen when children are put to bed with sugar drinks including milk, juice, and soda without brushing afterwards. These sugars then give the bacteria in mouth fuel to eat at teeth causing cavities/decay. These cavities then spread like wildfire causing dental pain and a lifelong dental issues for this child. If you child insists to sleep with a bottle, please switch the liquid to tap water only.
2. Thumb Sucking. May children find this method to be soothing and help calm anxiety. It is a normal part of infant and toddler development. Dental problems arising from thumb sucking arise if the child continues to suck their thumb into and past age 5. Children who constantly suck their thumb are then at risk for shifting the teeth into mal-alignment and creating an overbite or open bite. This creates additional problems in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together leading to potential jaw and even airway problems (like snoring). Talk to your child about their thumb sucking habit. Try a non-invasive method like a bandaid or sticker lightly placed on the thumb (changed every day) to remind the child not to suck on the thumb.
3. Tongue Thrusting. This commonly happens when the tongue is pushed forward during swallowing. The pressure from the tongue thrusting forward can push the teeth out of alignment. This will create an overbite or possible impairment with speech. The child may need to seek attention from a speech therapist and our Highlands Ranch Dentists to help aid with this issue. Both these specialist may need to coach/train your child a new technique to swallow without thrusting the tongue.
4. Pre-Mature Tooth Loss. A main function of baby teeth (besides giving children the ability to chew) is to maintain space and function for permanent teeth. Early loss of teeth due to cavities, injury, or lack of space for permanent teeth can cause lasting effects with the permanent teeth. The neighboring baby or permanent teeth may shift into the open space. The loss may also cause the permanent teeth to erupt at an angle. This angle can cause mal-alignment of the upper and lower teeth and a decreased ability to chew as well as TMJ problems and dysfunction. A space maintainer may need to be placed to hold open space while the permanent teeth erupt.
Baby teeth serve a vital role in the health of your child. These common childhood dental disease are preventable. Make sure your child is seen by a dentist starting at 18 months old and is seen every 6 months for a check up. Call our Highlands Ranch dental office today at 303-694-9740 and schedule your appointment with Dr. DeLapp or Dr. Parsons. Our family has been caring for dental patients in Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Centennial, Castle Pines, and Parker since 1982.