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Common Pediatric Dental Problems and What to Do About Them

Common Pediatric Dental Problems and What to Do About Them

Most children will experience some kind of dental problem at one point or another. Check out these four common pediatric dental problems and how you can address them.

Thumb Sucking

Why it’s bad:

Thumb sucking can be one of the more comforting aspects of childhood, but unfortunately this seemingly benign habit can actually wreak havoc on teeth, interfering with proper growth of the mouth and interfering with the correct alignment of teeth. Aggressive thumb suckers, particularly, are prone to dental problems.

How to handle it:

The good news is that thumb sucking isn’t always a cause for alarm. It’s natural for babies to suck as it helps them relax and the majority of children will habitually stick a finger or thumb in the mouth from a very early age (thumb sucking even starts in the womb).

Even better news is that according to the Canadian Dental Association, the majority of children will outgrow thumb sucking between the ages of 2 and 3. If after three years of age, your child still wants to suck, switch to using a soother (pacifier)*. This is better than their thumb because it will give you control as to when your child sucks. However, if thumb sucking continues once a child's permanent teeth come in, it could cause problems with how the jaw and teeth grow. This is time for parental intervention.

*Never put sugar, honey or any type of syrup on a soother. These can cause cavities.

Canker Sores

Why it’s bad:

Also known as aphthous ulcers, these small open sores can generate a significant amount of pain and discomfort for a child.

What to do about it:

Canker sores will typically heal on their own in roughly three to four days. However, there are ways to reduce pain.

Your child should avoid eating abrasive foods, avoid using sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) mouthwashes and toothpastes, and avoid salty, spicy, or acidic foods.

Furthermore, it should also be noted that measures can be taken to prevent canker sores. They include avoiding potentially irritating foods (including citrus fruits, acidic vegetables, and spicy foods) and brushing and flossing regularly.

Grinding

Why it’s bad:

While grinding, also known as bruxism, is quite common in children, it can do serious damage to the teeth, causing dental or muscular pain and wearing away primary teeth.

It’s especially problematic once a child has lost his or her baby teeth, as grinding from a young age can do permanent damage to adult teeth as they come in, wearing down enamel, chipping teeth, and causing increased temperature sensitivity.

How to handle it:

You’ll need to evaluate why the child is grinding his or her teeth. If it is an involuntary response to stress or anxiety, the root emotional cause of the grinding needs to be addressed. The good news is that, while between two and three out of every ten children grind their teeth, the majority of kids outgrow it.

Over-retained Primary Teeth

Why it’s bad:

An over-retained primary tooth is a baby tooth that is still in position when an adult tooth is trying to erupt. It can cause painful complications.

How to handle it:

Treatment is required to properly deal with an over-retained primary tooth. However, the specific treatment will depend on the condition of the primary tooth, as well as the surrounding structures. In some cases, the tooth may need to be extracted, though in other cases it can be retained. If this is a concern for you and your child, contact us to discuss treatment options specific to your child’s situation.

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