From the testiness of teething to the shock of losing a permanent tooth, dental problems have a way of making themselves known in the most dramatic of ways. This can be especially true for parents who tend to overreact whenever the subject relates to their child’s health. Fortunately, the majority of dental problems are fairly common, most are not terribly serious, and all have a solution. Whether you’re a first time parent or the mother or father to many, here’s what you need to know about common problems that can affect your child’s oral health.
A difficult time for both parent and child, teething can create a nightmare scenario where a parent can do little to help alleviate their child’s discomfort. While your child will experience some level of discomfort as his or her teeth start to emerge through the gum line, the good news is that the pain will generally subside once the tooth becomes visible.
Not every child experiences teething in the same way, as some experiencing almost no discomfort, so parents need to know that signs that accompany the process to understand when their child starts teething. Keep an eye out for such symptoms as:
- An increased desire to chew on things
- Swollen gums
- Red or flushed cheeks
- Excessive dribbling
- Increase irritability
If your child suffers from additional symptoms such as fever, teething is probably not the cause of her discomfort. To help your child deal with the discomfort caused by teething, you should consider proving him with a chilled (but unfrozen) teething ring to chew on and to ask your dentist to recommend a sugar-free teething gel to use. Never rub aspirin along your child’s gum line to alleviate discomfort as this could actually burn your child’s gum and increase the pain.
While getting a cavity was once a right of passage for young kids, the number of children who suffer from advanced tooth decay has actually dropped in half over the last 20 years. Cavities form when plaque, a stick biofilm that grows in the mouth, secretes substances that erode away tooth enamel, resulting in decay. Plaque fuels itself on the sugars your child consumes, so the less simple sugars like cookies and candies she eats, the less her risk becomes from suffering from decay.
Of course cutting back on simple sugars in your child’s diet won’t do much to help prevent cavities if she doesn’t brush and floss daily. Parents may also want to talk with their dentist about having dental sealants applied to their child’s teeth. A thin coating that block plaque from reaching tooth enamel, dental sealants are generally applied to a child’s back molars and are incredibly effective at preventing decay.
Carbonated beverages and fruit juice both have high levels of acidity. If your child consumes these types of beverages often – especially from out of a bottle – the acids these beverages contain can cause enamel erosion. This is different from tooth decay because instead of focusing on one specific point, acid erosion attacks a tooth’s entire surface by thinning the surface enamel. Not only can this make a child’s teeth sensitive, it also makes them more susceptible to decay.
Parents can help to reduce acid erosion by taking the following precautions:
- Only place milk or water into bottle
- Dilute fruit juice with water
- Limit your child’s opportunity to drink juice or carbonate soda to during mealtimes
- Encourage your child to use a straw. This will allow the liquid to bypass the front teeth when consumed
- Ask that your child not swish sodas or juice around in their mouth when drinking
- Don’t have your child brush immediately following the consumption of either type of beverage. Your tooth enamel remains weakened and vulnerable for sometime after consuming acidic drinks.
- Ask that your child rinse thoroughly with water after drinking either type of beverage