The foundation of good dental habits and a healthy mouth is built at a young age. Proper guidance, a watchful eye and regular cleanings can help ensure your child grows up with the best smile they can have. There may be a few hiccups along the way, but don’t worry. From braces for kids to combating tooth decay, your dentist can help when issues like these five common concerns arise.

braces-for-kids1. Cavities

Children love sugary foods, but cavity-causing bacteria love sugar just as much. Children who have diets high in sugars, like soda, fruit juice and starchy foods like french fries are more likely to develop cavities. Be mindful of your child’s diet and make sure they have good brushing habits.

Bottle-fed babies are not immune from tooth decay. Putting your child down to bed with a bottle of milk or using sweetened pacifiers to encourage fussing children to calm down can contribute to a condition commonly called “baby bottle tooth decay.” Pacifiers should always be clean, and babies should only be put to bed with water in their bottles.

2. Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers

Thumbsucking or wanting a pacifier is a natural inclination for young children. It soothes them and helps them feel safe. Most children stop on their own by the time they’ve passed pre-school age. If your child doesn’t, it’s important to make sure they break the habit by the time their permanent teeth start to come in.

Once the permanent teeth are coming in, thumbsucking and pacifier use can impact tooth alignment, jaw alignment and even the shape of the upper palate. Overbites are the most common issue to develop. If your child already has some alignment problems, talk with your dentist about braces for kids.

3. Over-Retained Teeth

When a permanent tooth is fully developed and ready to come in, it pushes on the root of the baby tooth below it. The baby tooth comes loose and eventually falls out, allowing the permanent tooth to come in. Your child’s dentist can usually tell when a tooth is due to come in based on x-rays, experience and professional guidelines.

Sometimes, a baby tooth will sit in place much longer than expected. This is called an over-retained tooth. There are a number of possible causes. The baby tooth below might be crooked and not loosening correctly. The permanent tooth could be fused to the bone or missing entirely. Genetics and underlying health conditions can also play a role. A dentist will be able to assess the situation and offer treatment options based on your child’s unique situation.

4. Gum Disease

Brushing our teeth washes away the layers of bacteria and mineral deposits that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. When plaque and bacteria build up, they sit against the gum line and cause inflammation. This is called gingivitis. Left untreated, it can develop into more serious gum disease and impact both your child’s teeth and overall health.

It can be difficult for children to learn and maintain a good oral hygiene routine without parental supervision. They might not brush long enough, miss surfaces or have trouble flossing. Child with diabetes or taking certain medications can also be more prone to gum disease. During your child’s dental cleanings, the dentist will see whether your child’s routine is effective. If not, they’ll help teach your child how to maintain a healthy mouth. For children with medical concerns, special toothpastes and rinses might be necessary to manage their oral health.

5. Bruxism

According to the American Sleep Association, as many as 15% of children grind their teeth. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, usually occurs in deep sleep phases. Some parents can hear or see the grinding, but the first signs can be your child complaining of headaches and jaw pain when they wake up. Long-term grinding can wear down tooth enamel, cause sensitivity, lead to chronic headaches and impact the alignment of your child’s teeth.

The cause of bruxism can be hard to pinpoint. Physically, improper alignment of the teeth or pain like teething or ear aches can cause grinding. However, stress is one of the most common triggers for children. Worries about school, trouble at home, improper sleep patterns and even a recent move can all translate into a night time grind. Many children outgrow bruxism, but your dentist may discuss night guards or braces for kids with you if the problem persists.

Biannual dental checkups can help catch problems like these and correct them with solutions like braces for kids, dental fillings and recommendations for better oral health habits. Children should start seeing the dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts and continue with regular visits from then on. If your child is due for an exam, call Sky Dental Alliance today to schedule a visit.