In keeping your child healthy, do you also ensure that oral problems can be prevented? While your child’s baby teeth will eventually give way to permanent teeth, it is still essential that steps are taken to prevent any oral problems from occurring. After all, it is your child’s baby teeth that will guide his permanent teeth in its proper placement.
Here are the common oral problems in children and ways on how to deal with these:
1. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay (BBTD) or early childhood carries is a form of dental caries that occurs, when sweetened liquids come in frequent contact with a child’s teeth. These liquids include milk, commercial formula, fruit juice and other sweet liquids. Bacteria in the mouth use the sugar found in these liquids as food. They then produce acids which can cause tooth decay.
Keep in mind that it is not just what you give your child that causes tooth decay, but how often or how long these sweetened liquids come in contact with your child’s teeth. It is very important to wipe your baby’s gums using a clean gauze pad after every feeding. You may also begin using a toothbrush on your child soon after the first tooth erupts.
Do not allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle, and never attempt to dip the pacifier with any sweetened liquid. It may also be good that you begin introducing the use of a cup when your child turns one year old. It is also very important that you start visiting the dentist after your child’s first birthday. Regular dental visits are essential to ensure that your child’s fluoride needs are met, and that tooth decay can be prevented.
2. Thumb Sucking
Sucking comes naturally for infants. It is a natural reflex that makes them feel happy and secured, as they learn about their new environment. For this reason, some parents may find it hard to get a young child to stop thumb sucking. If a child continues to practice this habit after permanent teeth has erupted, it may create problems with proper growth of the mouth as well as teeth alignment.
A child may begin to stop thumb sucking by the age of 2 to 4 years old. It is generally not advisable that parents use negative reinforcement as a means to make a child stop this habit. Bear in mind that sucking is a security mechanism, and it may only make a child defensive if you utilize it to make your child stop. It may be better if you set-up a reward system each time your child avoids the habit. After a while, you can then increase the time needed for your child to get the reward. Always praise your child each time he tries to avoid habit.
For older children, it may be necessary to determine the stresses that your child may be facing. A child may be able to successfully give up thumb sucking if he is not too stressed out, or if he is not too preoccupied by something. If this will not work, consult your child’s dentist.
3. Lip Sucking
Lip sucking is another habit that some children practice. It can occur in combination with thumb sucking, when a child may repetitively hold his lower lip underneath his upper front teeth. This habit can lead to overbite, as well as the problems brought about by prolonged thumb sucking. In having your child give up the habit, you may utilize the same approach being used in having a child give up thumb sucking.
4. Tongue Thrusting
A baby can already show a tongue thrusting pattern from birth. While swallowing, a child may thrust the teeth forward against the teeth, or even in between the teeth. This type of swallowing can be retained by a child, which in turn may cause the teeth to be aligned. To add to that, it may also cause an overbite that can interfere with a child’s speech development. If you notice this problem in your child, consult a speech pathologist. Your child needs to have a treatment plan aimed at developing a new pattern of swallowing.
5. Premature/Early Tooth Loss
A child’s primary teeth may be lost early due to reasons like decay, injury or lack of jaw space. If your child’s teeth is lost before permanent teeth has erupted, the nearby teeth may move or tip into the vacant space. As permanent tooth emerges, the space may no longer be enough. This will result to crooked or misaligned teeth, which may then lead to a variety of problems involving chewing, or even temporamandibular joint problems. If your child loses a tooth too early, consult your dentist. Your child may need to wear a space maintainer, to make sure that his permanent tooth can grow normally.
Since there are factors that may affect a child’s oral health, parents need to begin by knowing when and how to stop certain habits. Along with visits to the dentist, you can help in keeping your child’s teeth healthy long before any permanent tooth has started to emerge.