As a parent, your child’s oral development will be incredibly important to you. Fortunately, many of the dental problems small children encounter are very normal and easily treatable at home or by a child dentist. Consult the list below to check for symptoms, causes and treatment options for common dental problems experienced by children.
Sensitive Teeth – Overview
Occasionally confused with teething, sensitive teeth in children can be a source of constant pain.
Sensitive Teeth – Cause
Sensitive teeth can be caused by numerous stressors including cavities and a sometimes unseen crack in the tooth. Additionally, brushing too hard can wear down the enamel on a tooth, leaving it exposed and sensitive.
Sensitive Teeth – Symptoms/Treatment
Patients with sensitive teeth usually experience pain and discomfort. Help your child by monitoring their brushing, using sensitive toothpaste, or even cleaning your teeth with them! If they’re brushing incorrectly, it may also be time to replace your child’s toothbrush.
Sensitive Teeth – Prevention/Care
To avoid future instances of sensitive teeth, consider getting your child a toothbrush with softer bristles and ensure they’re brushing twice a day, using only moderate pressure. You can also consult your dentist for more advice.
Grinding – Overview
Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding or clenching is often experienced in deep sleep. It can cause an unsettling sound while degrading your protective tooth enamel.
Grinding – Cause
Grinding is often a response to stress or pain. Among other things, it can occur during teething or when the top and bottom rows of teeth don’t align. Some medications taken by hyperactive children can also lead to bruxism.
Grinding – Symptoms/Treatment
Teeth grinding can be detected by its harsh sound and through complaints of a sore jaw in the morning from your child – they may also experience additional pain with chewing. A mouthguard can be an effective way to stop the problem. You can identify teeth grinding by monitoring your child while they sleep or by visiting the dentist when you have concerns.
Grinding – Prevention/Care
Many children outgrow teeth grinding. If it’s triggered by stress, speak to your child about what’s upsetting them. Identifying and dealing with the can often stop the grinding.
Thumb Sucking – Overview
Although it may seem harmless, chronic thumb sucking in children can lead to pushing some teeth forward, causing misalignment and problems with speech.
Thumb Sucking – Cause
Thumb sucking originates in utero as a calming mechanism. Children continue using it to comfort themselves when feeling hungry, sleepy, afraid or anxious.
Thumb Sucking – Symptoms/Treatment
As a purely observable habit, reminding your child that they’re doing it or asking them about it can often encourage self-reflection and be enough for them to stop.
Thumb Sucking – Prevention/Care
Again, children will often outgrow this behaviour. If you want to encourage them to stop, incentives like setting up a chart and rewarding extended periods without thumb-sucking could be a good idea.
Dental Anxiety – Overview
Dental anxiety or ‘fear of the dentist’ is experienced by many children and it can be a significant source of apprehension in their lives. The danger of this is the underuse of dental services, causing minor problems to develop into more severe ones.
Dental Anxiety – Cause
Many things can prompt a fear of the dentist in children, such as experiencing a lack of control in the situation, hearing unpleasant stories from friends, or the strange looking equipment and dental masks. Sometimes it’s as simple as a fear of the unknown.
Dental Anxiety – Symptoms/Treatment
Symptoms of dental anxiety are often observed behaviours such an avoiding the dentist or complaining about going for a check-up. To help your child overcome the issue, stay with them throughout the visit and continuously reinforce positive behaviours. Relaxation exercises like deep breathing can also help ease the apprehension of an impending trip to the dentist.
Be sure to alert your dentist to your child’s anxiety, working with them to create a pleasant and comforting environment.
Dental Anxiety – Prevention/Care
At home, read your child storybooks about visiting the dentist to remove fear from the situation – playing dentist may also have a similar effect. Additionally, teach your child the importance of good dental hygiene and lead by example.