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Common Pediatric Dental Problems

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is caused by the presence of bacteria in the mouth. When babies are born they do not have any of these bacteria, but they are passed on by parents or caregivers kissing their babies or sharing utensils with their children. If the parent or caregiver has a lot of cavities or gum disease then they’ll have more bacteria in their mouth, and greater numbers of these bacteria will be passed on to the baby.

Development and Consequences of Tooth Decay in Children

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a destructive condition that is caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria produce toxins that irritate and infect the gum tissues, and the body’s response is to produce antibodies to try to fight the infection.

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Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad breath is something that can often afflict adults, but did you know children can develop halitosis as well? While bad breath in adults is often down to lifestyle choices, including eating spicy or highly flavored foods and smoking, this is not so likely to be the case for children.

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Canker Sores

Canker sores are also called aphthous ulcers, and develop on the inside of the cheeks, lips and throat, and occasionally on the tongue. Canker sores are different from cold sores which are caused by the herpes simplex virus and which develop on the outside of the mouth. Whereas cold sores are extremely contagious, canker sores are not contagious at all.

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Orthodontic Problems

Ideally, everyone’s teeth would bite together in an even way, optimizing tooth function and oral health. Unfortunately this is rarely the case, as very few people will have perfect teeth. Orthodontic problems can create issues with biting and chewing, and with speaking and oral hygiene, and may lead to premature tooth wear, or could cause problems with the jaw joints if not treated. In addition, a misaligned smile can look less appealing.

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Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Parents and caregivers want their child to sleep peacefully, so it can be a bit of a shock to go into their room at night and to hear a grinding sound. Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding and clenching. It’s a problem that generally occurs during sleep, or when someone’s feeling stressed. Approximately two out of three children will grind their teeth or will clench at some stage, but most will outgrow the habit.

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Harmful Oral Habits in Childhood

Oral habits that initially seem harmless in children can cause dental problems if they continue into early childhood. These include common issues such as tongue thrusting, thumb and finger sucking, nail-biting, lip biting and pacifier use. Children tend to develop these habits for comfort, and many will go to sleep while sucking a thumb or finger.

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Misaligned, Crooked or Spaced out Teeth

As baby teeth are gradually lost, they are replaced by the permanent adult teeth. Some people are lucky enough to have teeth that come through at the right angle, and with the correct spacing, but this isn’t always the case. All too often teeth can come through crooked, or they can be overlapping or crowded.

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