Considering we offer Naperville dental treatment for kids here at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry, we’ve pretty much seen it all. Yet, there are common dental problems in kids that tend to crop up more often than others, ranging from prolonged thumb sucking to childhood tooth decay. Sometimes, in spite of your very best oral hygiene efforts, issues occur. Hey, it happens. The good news is, we have the training, expertise and technology to treat kids’ dental problems quickly, comfortably and effectively so you can preserve their adorable little smile and let the primary teeth continue to play important roles in their oral development. These are the most common dental problems in kids and how we treat them at our pediatric dental practice:
Tooth Decay in Kids
At Innovative Pediatric Dentistry, kids’ tooth decay is a problem we see every single day. We’re not alone either considering the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases children in the United States face. In fact, they estimate about 20% of children ages five to 11 have at least one untreated tooth with a cavity and the same holds true for 13% of teens between 12 and 19 years old. When tooth decay in kids isn’t fixed, it can lead to pain, infection, missed school, difficulty learning and problems with chewing and speaking.
What do our pediatric dentists do about child tooth decay? Well, we believe preventative dentistry is the best dentistry! We start by educating our young patients and their parents on the importance of regular dental exams and cleanings. During your kiddo’s cleanings we can get rid of that pesky plaque and tartar that can’t be removed with a regular toothbrush. We’re also able to spot decay in its earliest stages when it’s easier to treat. In addition to getting teeth sparkling clean, we offer preventative care like dental sealants and fluoride treatments. Dental sealants are a super fast and easy treatment and they’ve been shown to protect against 80% of cavities for two years and 50% of cavities for up to four years after they’ve been applied!
If we do spot a cavity, we can remove the decay and then use a tooth-colored filling that will blend in with your child’s smile. Don’t worry; we use modern techniques and tools to ensure the procedure is quick and painless. In more severe cases, if decay has led to infection, we can do root canals on baby teeth and protect the remaining tooth structure with a crown until it’s ready to fall out on its own.
Grown-ups aren’t the only ones who get sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth in kids can be caused by a variety of reasons, including brushing too hard, decay or injury to a tooth that exposes the nerve endings. Then, when your child eats or drinks something hot or cold, they may experience pain. To treat sensitive teeth, first, we examine your little one’s mouth and find out the underlying cause. If it’s due to decay or injury, we’ll repair the tooth. Other times, sealants can actually strengthen thin enamel and reduce sensitivity. We may also recommend that kids switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush at home.
Oral Habits like Thumb Sucking
While oral habits such as finger or thumb sucking and pacifier use are completely normal in babies, when the habits continue beyond a certain point, or kids have other habits like tongue thrusting and teeth grinding, it can affect the alignment of their teeth and jaws. This may eventually result in the need for extensive orthodontic treatment or, in some cases, even surgery, in the teenage or adult years. Our dentists are well-versed in helping parents overcome these habits to keep their child’s oral development on track. In younger tots, we’ll recommend certain behavioral techniques. If nothing else seems to work, we can offer a referral to our fellow Innovative Dental Partners practice, Innovative Orthodontic Centers (our offices are connected). They can create a custom habit-breaking appliance. The appliances either block the habit completely or prevent the thumb or finger from making contact behind the upper front teeth, which decreases the enjoyment and acts as a reminder to kids. Habit-breaking appliances are effective and can save you tons of aggravation and expense in the long run.
Damaged or Loose Tooth
A child getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy is a happy occasion when the tooth is lost because a permanent pearly white is coming in below it. However, if a child’s loose tooth is because of an injury, decay or damage and it looks as if it will fall out before its natural time, that’s another story. Losing a baby tooth too early is one of the more common dental problems in children we see and it can lead to issues like crowding. That’s why we do everything in our power to save a baby tooth that has been damaged. In cases where the tooth is dead or there is an infection, a root canal and crown may be indicated. If the tooth falls out and can’t be rescued, we opt for a dental space maintainer to save room for the permanent tooth to come in properly when it’s ready.
Gum disease might not seem like it would be one of the common dental problems in kids. However, if kids aren’t brushing and flossing properly it can rear its head. Gum disease happens when plaque builds up near the gum line and the bacteria in the plaque cause the gums to get red and swollen. If gum disease isn’t addressed or it progresses, it can cause damage to the bones that support the teeth and tooth loss. Regular check-ups and cleanings and a stellar oral hygiene routine can help prevent gum disease in kids. In its most mild form, known as gingivitis, it’s completely reversible with a professional cleaning and solid homecare. Your Naperville pediatric dentist will teach you how to create a regimen that will keep your little one’s gums healthy. In more advanced cases, a deep cleaning, special rinses or medication could be required.
The vast majority of the common dental problems in kids can be prevented with routine dental care and dedicated brushing and flossing. To keep your child’s smile happy and healthy, book an appointment at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry today!