Childhood is all about fun, excitement, frolic, mischief and loads of pampering. Wait, did we miss anything? How can we forget dental problems? No kid can outgrow his/her childhood without a toothache! Right from the time of teething to knocking out a permanent tooth, dental issues have always been a loud and clear part of childhood. But fortunately, most of these issues are not severe, and are easily treatable and preventable too.
Problems with dental health that commonly affect kids
After common cold, tooth decay is known to be the most common ailment in not only children, but also in teens and older adults around the world. Also known as cavities or dental caries, this problem is caused by the accumulation of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that forms a coating over the teeth. It is formed by the combination of bacteria and the acid released by them upon digestion of sugars, and food particles and saliva over time. If not attended to, the plaque starts eroding the enamel, forming tiny holes in it. If the problem is ignored further, the enamel starts wearing off thus, letting the bacteria go deeper into the teeth eventually leading to the pulp that contains nerves and blood vessels. At this point, the ailment causes severe toothache, increased sensitivity especially while eating or drinking food, and formation of pus.
Also known as periodontitis, infection of the gums has its start from the formation of plaque. Although brushing gets rid of this sticky film from the teeth, it recurs within 24 hours. And when it stays longer than 2 or 3 days, it turns into a more stubborn incrustation which forms under the gum line. This is known as tartar, and it can only be removed by dental cleaning and not by simply brushing or flossing. As tartar acts as a breeding ground for bacteria, with time, it causes inflammation of the gingiva; the condition is called gingivitis. If the problem gets overlooked, then the disease causes gaps to form between the gums and teeth, eventually invading the gum tissue. Main symptoms include tender and inflamed gums, loose teeth, loss of tissue and bone, bad breath, etc.
Also known as tooth erosion or acid erosion, this dental problem is increasingly becoming common in kids and adults. Products such as fruit juice and carbonated drinks are acidic in nature, and drinking them too often can cause teeth enamel to erode. Although teeth do have the ability to repair themselves, they cannot do so when they are exposed to too much acid thus, becoming thinner with time. Symptoms that may occur include tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and teeth getting a rounded look (especially during childhood).
One more common dental issue in kids is tooth sensitivity. As the name suggests, this disease causes the patient to experience great discomfort in one or more teeth in response to hot or cold sensations, and sweet foods or drinks. In some cases, even breathing cold air can trigger discomfort. Usually, this discomfort occurs in the form of sharp, stabbing pain that may be felt deep down into the teeth.
Malocclusion is simply defined as misalignment of teeth that results in poor bite. Children are more vulnerable to develop this disease. Because they have a small jaw, their teeth may grow into a space too small, which in turn may cause the teeth to grow improperly. The main symptom of this condition is having crooked teeth, which in some people, may also cause difficulty with eating or speaking.
Foul breath is not an annoying dental issue only in children, but also an embarrassing one in adults too. Also known as halitosis, bad breath is commonly an outcome of food, other dental problems such as gum infection, smoking, or underlying diseases. In children, cavities, food and gum problems happen to be the main offenders.
Although the above dental problems are common, they can be treated, and with the aid of some self-care measures, can be kept from occurring in the first place. All it takes for parents is to help their children follow some major rules of dental health like brushing twice a day, once in the morning and then before going to bed, flossing daily, eating properly, and paying a visit to the dentist at least twice a year.