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2 Potential Childhood Dental Issues—and the Potential Solutions

Infants and young children depend on parents to maintain proper oral health care. It’s important to meet with your family or pediatric dentist for frequent checks and to follow the oral healthcare advice provided.

But the best intentions don’t always prevent childhood dental issues from developing. Here are a couple of common dental problems in young children and the potential ways you and the dentist can help your child have a brighter dental future.

Early Childhood Caries

Early childhood caries are severe cavities that can occur in infants and toddlers. The most common causes are frequently drinking either milk or juice from a bottle or sippy cup.

Both milk and juice contain sugars that can linger in the mouth and cause tooth erosion. This is particularly true with drinking vessels like a bottle or sippy cup, where the child might take small but frequent sips throughout the day.

Cavities in baby teeth can cause discomfort and can lead to an oral infection. Severely damaged teeth might have to be extracted. This might not seem like a big deal because baby teeth are temporary. But the baby teeth serve important roles in setting up the spacing and growth path for the permanent teeth that will later emerge.

Tips for preventing early childhood caries include switching out the milk or juice for water at night, cleaning your baby’s gums and teeth after each feeding, and not allowing your child to eat sweetened foods.

Improper Baby Teeth Spacing

Sometimes baby teeth erupt too close together in places—or with large gaps between certain teeth. This can potentially cause problems for the permanent teeth later on.

Your dentist might want to take x-rays of your child’s mouth to check the position of the permanent teeth below the gum line. If the permanent teeth look properly placed, the baby teeth problem is merely cosmetic and the teeth will be left as-is to fall out naturally.

If the permanent teeth look aligned with the incorrectly spaced baby teeth, the dentist will want to fix the spacing issues. Teeth that are too far apart can be pushed towards each other using finger pressure and dental blocks. Closely crowded teeth can be separated using dental spacers.

If the teeth are too closely crowded for spacers to work, the dentist (such as Smile Builders – Robyn Lesser DMD) might elect to extract the tooth that’s causing the problem.  The permanent tooth under the extracted baby tooth will be monitored closely to ensure it can still grow in correctly.

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