The Most Common Pediatric Dental Problems

The Most Common Pediatric Dental Problems

Did you realize that childhood tooth decay is the most common chronic infectious disease in children? Children can have a variety of dental problems, and they're not just limited to tooth decay. Even something as simple as a pacifier can cause more serious problems as your children grow. Following are some of the most common problems seen by pediatric dentists:

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Also called nursing caries, this occurs when baby teeth are exposed to anything other than water for long periods of time, causing cavities. The number one culprit? Putting children to bed with a bottle. Even if this bottle contains milk or juice mixed with water, the sugar in these drinks creates an acid that wears away the tooth's enamel. Soda, sugary drinks or even formula can also cause baby bottle tooth decay. Frequent breastfeeding does not cause tooth decay, but mothers should keep on a healthy diet and follow good oral hygiene practices.

Tongue Thrusting

Infants swallow differently from older children. They swallow by placing their tongues at the top of their mouths behind their front teeth in a method called "tongue thrusting. " As they grow, they abandon this method as they learn how to swallow properly. However, if a child continues to tongue thrust, it can damage the teeth and change the shape of the mouth. Your dentist can be on the lookout for these symptoms.

Thumb Sucking

Keeping a child from sucking his or her thumb can be a frustrating experience. Thumb sucking is a natural soothing reflex and often nothing will soothe a fussy baby other than its beloved thumb or pacifier. However, once the permanent teeth come in --between two to four years of age--- thumb sucking can be an unhealthy habit. Eventually, thumb sucking will affect the alignment of the teeth and roof of the mouth.

So, What Can Parents Do?

Your dentist will help you if you notice changes in your child's front primary teeth. Here are some useful guidelines to help parents:

  • Select a “kid-friendly” pediatric dentist in your area.
  • As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, schedule his or her first dental appointment.
  • Watch your child for any of the above-mentioned habits.
  • Evaluate your water to ensure your child is getting enough fluoride.
  • If your child will be sipping on something for a while, make sure it’s water.

If you have any questions, remember you can always speak to your dentist.


Sources: American Speech Hearing Association. “Speech Disorders.” Healthychildren.org. “How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Your Baby.” MouthHealthy.org. “Thumbsucking.”

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.