Five common pediatric dental problems and treatments

There are a number of problems that affect the oral health of children, including tooth decay, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking, and early tooth loss. Even though baby teeth are eventually replaced with permanent teeth, keeping baby teeth healthy is important to a child's overall health and well-being. As parents, it's up to you to set healthy standards for good oral care in your children. The good news is, most tooth problems and concerns are common, many are not serious, and all have a solution.

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Tooth Decay:
Caries, or tooth decay, is a preventable disease. Certain types of bacteria that live in your mouth cause tooth decay. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as candy, cookies, soft drinks and even fruit juices and fruit roll-ups leave deposits on your teeth; as well as cooked starches such as bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta. These deposits bond with the bacteria that normally survive in your mouth and form plaque. The combination of deposits and plaque forms acids that can damage the mineral structure of the teeth, resulting in tooth decay.

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Along with favorite blankets, teddy bears, and nap time, thumb-sucking can be one of the most comforting aspects of childhood. In most cases, it is important to pay attention to your child's habits, in case their behavior has a damaging effect on their oral health. Children may suck a thumb or a finger from a very young age; some even start inside the womb. Sucking is natural for an infant, and it serves an important purpose. It often provides a sense of security and contentment for a young one. It can also be relaxing, which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep.

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Sensitive Teeth:

Hot and cold food or beverages can cause discomfort 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 causing the irritation of nerve endings. Sometimes breathing cold air can be painful for those with extremely sensitive teeth. Specially formulated desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride varnishes or treatments, restorations or sometimes night guards can help to resolve tooth sensitivity.

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Grinding can be an involuntary habit. Grinding is considered to be a common developmental stage of childhood. Many children tend to eliminate this habit as they age. Grinding can wear away primary and permanent teeth, cause dental or muscular pain and when indicated may be treated in the permanent teeth with a night guard.

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Over-Retained Primary (baby) Teeth:

A primary tooth still in position with a permanent tooth trying to erupt in the same space is termed an "over-retained" tooth and requires removal of the primary tooth. The presence of primary teeth in teenagers and adults indicates a potential problem, such as congenitally missing or impacted permanent teeth. Early diagnosis allows for a better outcome. Regular dental care will allow the dentist to monitor growth and development.

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