According to the CDC, tooth decay is the number one chronic disease among children in the United States. It’s also one of the most preventable diseases. If oral health problems are caught and treated early, they can often be prevented from becoming serious health issues. Here are some of the most common oral health problems in kids, along with tips on preventing them.
1. Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is caused by the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. When plaque is not removed, it can harden and form tartar, damaging the tooth enamel and leading to cavities.
Kids are particularly at risk for tooth decay because they often have poor oral hygiene habits and consume sugary foods and drinks. To help prevent tooth decay, brushing and flossing regularly and seeing a dentist for regular checkups are essential.
If cavities develop, they can be treated with fillings, crowns, or other dental procedures. A dental implant is one of the best and safest ways to replace a damaged tooth. Leveraging a dental implant procedure can help replace the crooked tooth with a natural-like artificial one. This will bring your mouth functioning back to normal.
Studies have shown that more than half of children aged 6 to 8 have had a cavity in at least one of their baby (primary) teeth. Cavities occur when acid produced by bacteria weakens tooth enamel. Once the enamel is weakened, the bacteria can begin to erode the tooth, causing a hole or cavity. Cavities are most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene, sugary diets, and acidic beverages.
Left untreated, cavities can lead to serious infections, abscesses, and tooth loss. To prevent cavities, kids must brush their teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and eat a balanced diet.
3. Gum Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gum disease is one of the kids’ most common oral health problems. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that damages the tissues and bones around the teeth. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
The CDC estimates that nearly half of all Americans have some form of gum disease, and it is especially prevalent among certain groups, including children. Poor oral hygiene is a significant risk factor for gum disease, so parents must ensure that their kids brush and floss regularly. In addition, regular dental checkups can help to identify early signs of gum disease so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.
4. Bad Breath
Bad breath, in particular, is a common problem that many factors can cause. Poor dental hygiene, certain medical conditions, and even some foods can contribute to bad breath. Fortunately, parents can take a few simple steps to help their kids overcome bad breath.
Encouraging good oral hygiene habits, like brushing and flossing regularly, can make a big difference. In addition, avoiding sugary snacks and drinks can also help to reduce the incidence of bad breath.
5. Tooth Loss
Tooth loss is usually the result of an injury, infection, or tooth decay. In some cases, it may also be due to genetic conditions like cleft palate or cleft lip. Tooth loss can be a serious problem, especially in young children. It can cause problems with eating, speaking, and even breathing.
There are a few different ways to prevent tooth loss:
- Good oral hygiene habits, like brushing and flossing regularly, can help to keep the teeth healthy and strong.
- Avoiding sugary snacks and drinks can reduce tooth decay risk.
- Regular dental checkups can help to identify any problems early on so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.
6. Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is a common oral health problem in kids. It’s caused by a buildup of yeast in the mouth, and it can lead to pain, redness, and difficulty eating. While thrush is generally not serious, it can be uncomfortable for your child. You can do a few things to help ease your child’s discomfort and speed up the healing process.
First, give your child hard candy or ice pops to help soothe their sore throat. You can also give them over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with pain or discomfort. Finally, brush your child’s teeth twice daily and have them use a soft toothbrush to avoid further irritation.
Bad breath, dry mouth, mouth sores, and thrush are all common oral health problems in kids. Luckily, parents can do a few things to help relieve their child’s symptoms. Encouraging them to drink plenty of water throughout the day, chew sugar-free gum, or suck on hard candy can help increase saliva production. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe artificial saliva or recommend over-the-counter medication.