Even though your child's baby teeth will eventually fall out, it is important to keep them healthy so that the permanent teeth grow in correctly. There are a few dental problems that are frequently found in young children that every parent should be aware of. Here are three common early childhood dental problems and how you can prevent them.
Many children will grind their teeth while they are asleep, although some will develop a tooth-grinding habit while they are awake. Teeth grinding is hard on permanent teeth, but it can be even more damaging to baby teeth because they are weaker. Grinding can cause children's teeth to crack and chip and lead to constant headaches if the problem is not treated.
If you notice your child grinding their teeth frequently at night, a pediatric dentist can provide a mouthguard to protect your child's teeth until they grow out of the habit. The dentist will also check for undetected cavities, as daytime grinding is often an attempt to relieve cavity pain.
The seemingly harmless habit of sucking the bottom lip behind the top row of teeth can actually cause damage to the teeth if it is done too frequently. While lip sucking is unlikely to put enough force on the top teeth to crack them, this habit can cause the jawbone to develop incorrectly, leading to an overbite.
Because lip sucking is often a self-comforting behavior, reprimanding your child for lip sucking may only lead them to do it more often when you aren't aware. Instead, you should use a positive reinforcement strategy that discourages the behavior by rewarding your child for extended periods without lip sucking.
Baby-Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby-bottle tooth decay is most commonly seen in children who are still using bottles, as well as those who frequently drink sugary drinks from sippy cups. Sucking on bottles and sippy cups covers the top front teeth in whatever the child is drinking. This makes it more likely that sugary drinks that are drank in this way will cause the front teeth to decay.
To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, you should never leave your child with a bottle or sippy cup of milk or juice overnight. Fill any nighttime cups with water instead, and be sure to limit sugary drink consumption throughout the day.
Many normal childhood behaviors can lead to dental problems, but there are a few steps you can take to minimize the risk. Keep these tips in mind so that your child can enjoy a lifetime of good dental health.