Did you know, 60 to 80% of children in India have dental cavities and 30% of children have malalignment of teeth? The structure of the milk teeth is different than adults, therefore the spread is fast, and it causes more damage. Parents should understand what paediatric dental problems are and how to prevent them from the beginning.
Common dental problems in a child:
Tooth decay or cavities: It is the most common dental disease in childhood. By and large, cavities develop due to mid-meal snacking, sugar consumption, poor oral hygiene or deep pit and fissures present on teeth. The enamel – the outermost layer of teeth is 50% thin in milk teeth as compared to permanent teeth. That is why when decay started, it spreads quickly to the inner layers of teeth. Parents should inculcate healthy diet and brushing habits in children from time to time.
Tooth Sensitivity: Yes, it is as common in children, as in adults. It is due to newly erupted teeth, cavities, wearing of enamel, fractured tooth, tooth grinding, or undergoing orthodontic treatment. Parents should not overlook the problem as it may interfere with eating, drinking as well as the child’s focus. If children complain of sensitivity, it is important to treat the root cause.
Malalignment: Alignment of the teeth and jaw is hereditary. Having gaps between baby teeth is quite common and spaces get closed during development. However, crowding of teeth in children may lead to poor oral hygiene due to inaccessibility. Overbite, underbite, crossbite, and open bite are some of the other orthodontic problems found in children. 7 to 8 years is the ideal age to consult the orthodontist for malalignment.
Paediatric gingivitis: Bleeding and swollen gums are quite common in kids. The reason behind this is poor oral hygiene or severe crowding where oral hygiene maintenance is not possible. In such cases, parents should opt for cleaning from the dentist as well as assist the child to brush and floss regularly.
Bad habits: Thumb sucking, use of a pacifier, mouth breathing, and tongue thrusting are bad habits that may affect oral health as well as the general well-being of a child. Beyond the toddler years, if the child continues such habits, he/she may develop open bite, malalignment etc. Most of the time small children soothe their anxiety through thumb sucking, so ruling out such emotional disturbance remains crucial.
Dental emergencies: While playing, kids may encounter dental-related accidents. In this situation, sometimes tooth breaks, chips, or fractures. If such a dental problem is not treated immediately, it may lead to severe pain and a dental emergency. If the permanent tooth is avulsed (comes out of the sockets completely), parents should rush to the dentist with the tooth preserved in milk.
Apart from dental problems in children, kids may develop dental anxiety or phobia which makes dental visits an arduous task for parents.
Importance of school dental check-ups: School dental check-up camps help detect developing dental problems in children and foster good oral hygiene habits in children. The experts guide parents about preventive and proactive measures to develop healthy smiles in children. On the other hand, schools provide the right environment for children to overcome their worries with other kids, hence they can cope with dental phobias.
To sum up, these are the most common dental problems in children. Most oral health-related issues can be resolved when detected early in children. Parents and schools can jointly promote good oral hygiene habits from an early age and develop healthy smiles in kids.
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