Having kids is an enormous (and enormously fulfilling) job. As the saying goes “kids don’t come with a manual.” While there isn’t a manual, there are dental experts! If you’re a parent and are wondering if your child’s oral habits are normal, or if it’s time to get help, read on for how to spot common dental issues in kids.
Thumb sucking is a natural way for babies to sooth themselves. But when is a child too old to suck their thumb? Is there a point when parents should be concerned? According to the American Dental Association parents should intervene if their child is still sucking their thumb at age 5. If you notice your child’s baby teeth are being affected by thumb-sucking it is a good time to talk to Walker-Barr DMD about ways to curb the habit. Thumb sucking can affect the way permanent teeth come in and can also affect the development of your child’s palate and bite.
Using a pacifier is like thumb sucking. If you notice it is affecting primary teeth or speech development, it’s time to say good-bye. There are a lot of ways to transition away from the pacifier. You can have the pacifier fairy collect the pacifiers and leave a toy in exchange. Or, some parents prefer to show their child the pacifier going in the trash and saying goodbye. If you want to offer a gradual approach, you can start by removing the option to have the pacifier during certain times like riding in the car or nap time.
You may notice your child’s tongue sticking out between the front teeth more often than other kids. If so, they may be thrusting. Children who have used a bottle, sucked their thumb or paci for too long can create a poor swallowing reflex. They may push their tongue against the back of their teeth. In some children this can create an overbite or open bite and affect speech development. If you are concerned, call us and Walker-Barr DMD can look and see if there is an issue.
Some children develop a habit of sucking on their lips. The child will pull the lip between the teeth, like sucking their thumb or pacifier. Lip sucking can cause the same bite and speech issues as thumb sucking or pacifier use. If your child sucks on their lips, let us know.
Early childhood Caries (ECC)
When young kids have cavities, we refer to them as early childhood caries or baby bottle caries. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry defines early childhood caries as: “The presence of one or more decayed (noncavitated or cavitated lesions), missing (due to caries) or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth in a child under the age of 6.” Cavities are common in kids, but they are avoidable. It’s important to start kids off with good brushing and flossing habits. Also, limiting sugary drinks and snacks help. For further reading on early childhood causes and prevention, read the American Academy of Dentistry Statement on Early Childhood Caries.
Premature tooth loss
Sometimes kids lose teeth before the tooth is ready. Weather it be a fall or other kind of trauma, kids are prone to chips, cracks and tooth loss. The most important thing you can do as a parent if your child damages a tooth is to come in. Fractured or cracked or chipped teeth may leave your child exposed to infection. If your child knocks a tooth out, we need to make sure we preserve the health of the gums and jawbone.
Sleep disordered breathing
If your child is unusually sleepy during the day or if your child is acting out in school or has mood swings, they may have trouble sleeping. If you suspect your child may sleep poorly, let us know. We will do an oral exam and if needed recommend a sleep study. Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea could be the issue.
No matter what, the best way to find out if your child has a dental issue is to ask Walker-Barr DMD.
Walker-Barr DMD are ready to take your call!