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Children and Halitosis (Bad Breath)

By Kids Dentistry

It would be nearly impossible to sail through life without ever having stinky breath. After all, what kind of world would it be without garlic bread? While we often think of it as a problem that plagues adults, as most parents can attest, when it comes to bad breath kids aren’t immune either. In fact, halitosis (a fancy word for bad breath) can occur even in babies. A little morning breath is no big deal. However, mom and dad often get rightfully concerned when it’s persistent and lasts throughout the day even after brushing. Acute and chronic bad breath are typically caused by different things and we’ll go over the common culprits as well as how to get rid of bad breath in a child.

What Can Cause Bad Breath in Toddlers, Infants and Children?

Halitosis usually comes from the mouth but it can also originate in the nose or airway depending on the underlying cause. Who knew bad breath was such a complex issue? As a Denver pediatric dentist, here’s what Dr. Paddy sees most:

  • Morning Breath: When we’re sleeping, our saliva production slows way down. This lets odor-causing bacteria hang out and create a stink. Fortunately, this type of halitosis goes away when we brush our teeth and the spit starts flowing again.
  • Certain Foods: The digestive process begins as soon as you take a bite of food. Garlic, onions, cheese and other strong smelling foods start to breakdown in the mouth and as this happens, your kid’s breath doesn’t smell all that great. It’s a temporary type of halitosis and nothing to be alarmed about.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: This is by far the number one reason kids develop bad breath. When children don’t brush and floss properly, food particles and plaque work their way into every nook and cranny and certain bacteria in the mouth have a heyday and release a stench. This can be even worse with children who are wearing fixed orthodontic appliances since they’re a little more challenging to keep clean.
  • The Tongue: The vast majority of odor-causing bacteria are on the back of the tongue where they attach to epithelial cells. These cells, bacteria and food particles get stuck in the crevices and decompose giving off a really foul smell.
  • Tooth Decay and Other Dental Problems: Cavities are decaying teeth and decay never smells good. Plus, teeth with cavities tend to trap food debris, which just adds to the problem. Abscessed teeth, mouth sores and damaged or improperly placed restorations can all stink or allow bacteria to accumulate too.
  • Gum Disease: Cavities, cavities, cavities. They’re the mouth monsters that get the most attention but gingivitis, or gum disease, is a serious concern too. When plaque and tartar build up on the teeth, the bacteria release acids and toxins that cause the gums to get infected and inflamed. One of the symptoms is bad breath.
  • Dry Mouth: This is a little like morning breath in that saliva isn’t washing away bacteria and food debris so the breath starts to smell. However, dry mouth, or xerostomia, doesn’t usually go away as easily as morning breath, particularly if it’s caused by medication or a medical condition. Dehydration can be behind dry mouth as well but it’s an easier fix.
  • Mouth Breathing: Mouth breathing, whether it’s a sleep habit or an occasional thing due to a stuffy nose, halts salvia production and causes dry mouth, leading to halitosis 
  • Sinus Infection: Sinus infections are another cause of bad breath that occurs frequently. The mucus makes its way down the back of the throat and gets comfy on the tongue. The bacteria then feed off the mucus and release smelly gases.  
  • Prominent Tonsils: Large tonsils or tonsils with deep pits are magnets for debris and oral and nasal secretions that decompose and smell bad. Also, tonsilloliths (whitish-yellow secretions) can form in the pits and as they break up, they give off a stinky odor.
  • Medications: Antihistamines, bronchodilators, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antispasmodics and several other medications are known to cause dry mouth and bad breath. When kids use antibiotics for an extended period, halitosis can also temporarily rear its head.
  • Health Conditions and Illnesses: There are a variety of health conditions that can result in halitosis in children including diabetes, the aforementioned sinus infections and postnasal drip, allergies, gastroesophageal reflux, infections in the respiratory tract, thrush, diabetes and, less commonly, liver and kidney issues, among others. Don’t panic. Just because your kid’s breath is unpleasant, it doesn’t mean they necessarily have a disease or serious health concern. However, if we’ve ruled out all other causes, visiting the pediatrician is a good idea.
  • Something Stuck in the Nose: Let’s face it, kids do some strange things as they explore the world around them and toddlers have been known to stick things in their nose. Whether it’s a small toy or a piece of food, it will cause inflammation, nasal secretions and eventually a bad odor. If, after all of your investigative work, you’re still asking yourself, “Why does my toddler’s breath smell so bad?,” it can’t hurt to take a look in their nose. If you do spot something and it happens to be a hard object, you can make an attempt to remove it yourself. The Cleveland Clinic suggests trying the “mother’s kiss” method a single time. To perform the “mother’s kiss,” put your hand over your little one’s mouth, close the nostril that isn’t obstructed with your finger and blow gently into their mouth. If it’s not successful or the object is soft, seek medical attention. If you don’t see anything but there’s a foul stench coming from one nostril or your child has a high fever and dark green mucus, contact their pediatrician.

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Kids Halitosis Remedies

  • Have your child brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time and floss once daily. For younger kids, you’ll probably need to brush and floss for them or at least provide a little assistance and supervision. Kids should brush the back of their tongue or use a tongue scraper too to get rid of the smelly coating.
  • Make breakfast a priority. Eating in the morning gets the saliva going and helps wash away food particles and bacteria.
  • To keep dry mouth at bay, children need to drink enough water throughout the day. They can also rinse with water after every meal or snack or whenever their mouth feels dry.
  • Another way to boost saliva production and say goodbye to bacteria is letting kids chew sugarless gum (they’ll love this one!). Look for gum containing xylitol, a natural way to fight cavities, and you’ll address two problems at once.
  • Give your child raw fruits and veggies as snacks. Crunchy things like carrot sticks or apple slices are “nature’s toothbrushes” since they can help scrape away plaque. Plus, if they fill up on healthy foods, they’ll be less likely to seek out sugary treats.
  • If halitosis is caused by cavities, gum disease or oral infections, your dentist will need to step in and treat the problem while also giving you instructions for home care.
  • Try to stop mouth breathing in its tracks if it’s a nighttime habit. Pediatric dentists are well versed in helping patients eliminate harmful oral habits.
  • Visit the pediatrician regularly and if bad breath is from a health condition, talk about possible treatments. If medication is the reason and a child is really bothered by their bad breath, you might want to discuss alternatives.
  • See your pediatric dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. We’ll keep your child’s oral health on track and kick dragon breath to the curb.

How We Get to the Bottom of Bad Breath in Kids

When kiddos come into our Denver pediatric dental practice with bad breath, we don’t just give them mints or tell them to brush and floss more. We want to find the underlying cause in order to best treat the problem. Here’s what you can expect:

  • The Sniff Test: Parents are sometimes surprised when Dr. Paddy gets a few inches away from their child’s mouth and sniffs. However, this is the most reliable way to diagnose halitosis and different smells can mean different things. For example, gum disease and tooth decay have distinct odors as do issues like uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Complete Medical History: Once we smell your child’s breath, we’ll chat with you about their health history, medical conditions and medications they’re taking.
  • Examination: An exam is necessary to check for problems such as cavities, gum disease, dry mouth, damaged restorations, mouth sores and debris and plaque around orthodontic appliances. These are all treatable and the sooner we uncover the problem, the sooner your child can regain their fresh breath.

A lot of causes of bad breath can be taken care of at home. However, if excellent oral hygiene, a healthy diet, plenty of water and other practices don’t help at all, schedule an appointment at Kids Mile High. Dr. Paddy has been trained in the unique oral health needs of kids. He can determine the reason why your child’s breath smells bad and take the steps to fix it.

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Candy, Chocolate, Cookies and Santa Claus: Keeping Your Kids Teeth Healthy

Candy, Chocolate, Cookies and Santa Claus: Keeping Your Kids Teeth Healthy

By Kids Dentistry

Candy, Chocolate, Cookies and Santa Claus: Keeping Your Kids Teeth Healthy

Hanukkah is underway, Christmas is fast approaching and before you know it, we’ll be ringing in 2018. This time of year means twinkling lights, candles aglow, festive tunes, gifts, enjoying the company of loved ones and a general feeling of goodwill but it also means sugar, sugar and more sugar! There’s nothing the mouth monsters love more than holiday sweets. Dr. Paddy and the Kids Mile High team are all well aware that patients aren’t going to follow up a night of caroling with hot carrot juice instead of hot chocolate and we wouldn’t expect little ones to give up all of their favorite treats. However, a few small tweaks can really go a long way in preventing cavities. Here are our tips for parents on how to keep your kids teeth healthy during the holidays.

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  1. Pay Special Attention to Brushing and Flossing: So, you got home late from a family gathering. It would be so easy to let the kiddos skip their oral hygiene routine for the night and fall into bed. Try your very best to avoid this and spend the few extra minutes making sure their teeth are brushed and flossed. As always, have your kids brush twice a day (once in the morning and once at bedtime) with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at night. You may even want to follow up with a cavity-fighting mouthwash. If you’re unsure of what to use, ask us, and we’ll point you in the right direction. During the holidays, if your kids are really getting down with the sweets, it’s a good idea to throw in an extra brushing session or at least have them rinse their mouth out really well with water after eating or drinking something high in sugar.
  2. Moderation is Key: We know it’s easier said than done but sticking with a balanced, nutritious diet during all of the celebrations is important. Munching on desserts and sipping on sweet drinks is best done in moderation. Plus, it will make them taste all that much better knowing it’s a special occasion. Limiting treats at the holidays for kids really starts at home. Keep your own pantry stocked with healthy essentials and let them get their treat fix when you’re out and about so that it’s not a continuous cycle of sugar. If there’s a particularly sugar-fueled event on the calendar, it could be helpful to be extra careful about what your kids eat leading up to it.
  3. Don’t Eat or Drink too Slowly: There are a lot of benefits of eating slowly and savoring your meals but when it comes to kids and candy, soda and all of the big cavity offenders, slow isn’t better. The bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and starches and as they do, they release acids that mix with spit and food debris and form plaque. When it isn’t brushed away, the acids start to damage the enamel, eventually leading to cavities. After eating or drinking, the bad acids hang out for about a half hour and with each sip or bite, the clock starts over. So, slowly sipping on hot chocolate over the course of an hour or snacking on treats throughout the day just means little teeth are exposed to acids for much longer. Sugar here and there is fine but constantly bathing the teeth in it isn’t. Instead, make sure your kids are drinking sugary drinks or eating sugary snacks at a normal pace and in one sitting.
  4. Make Some Healthy Swaps Where You Can: Some of the worst holiday treats for your kids can easily receive a healthy makeover and still taste fantastic. Using fresh fruit in certain cakes, for example, can take the place of some of the refined sugar while offering a hint of sweetness. Making hot chocolate that’s heavy on the milk and lighter on the chocolate, will give teeth a boost of calcium and milk has been shown to decrease the acid levels in plaque.
  5. Give the Kids a Few Tooth-Friendly Holiday Gifts: Only putting dental floss and fresh vegetables under the tree probably won’t go over that well but that doesn’t mean a few gifts can’t be related to oral health. Sugarless gum with xylitol is excellent for killing sugar bugs and it’s the perfect stocking stuffer or small, add-on Hanukah gift. You can also try exceptionally tasty toothpaste along with an electric toothbrush for older kids or a super fun, colorful toothbrush for younger ones.
  6. Hydrate with Water: Water is up there on the list of things that teeth love. It keeps spit flowing and spit neutralizes those plaque acids. Plus, it gives teeth a bath, washing away food debris and bacteria. Have the kids drink water throughout the day and balance out any other beverages with a glass of H20. Fill up your water bottle before heading out to a party or a visit with Santa.
  7. Keep Up With Dental Exams and Cleanings: We know it gets really busy around the holidays and going to the dentist probably falls lower on the to-do list than say, eating a ton of Christmas cookies. However, your child’s checkups and cleanings are the cornerstones of their preventative care. We’re able to get rid of the hardened plaque that can’t be eliminated with brushing and flossing at home, make sure teeth and gums are in top-notch shape and, if problems do arise, we can catch them early while treatment is less invasive. Consider it your gift to your little one’s smile!

Keeping your child’s teeth healthy during Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s doesn’t have to turn into a seasonal full-time job. Just be mindful of their sugar intake and follow the same guidelines as you do the rest of the year. As long as your child is brushing and flossing, going for their regular checkups and cleanings and not eating an all candy cane diet, there’s no need to worry. If you have questions or concerns or want to start your child’s 2018 off with a bright smile under the care of a Denver pediatric dentist, contact us.

Happy holidays from Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry!

young-girl-caring-for-her-oral-hygiene

Do Baby Teeth Really Matter? Yes!

By Kids Dentistry

Do Baby Teeth Really Matter? Yes

After a lot of drooling, plenty of teething rings and usually some sleepless nights, your baby is sporting their first tiny pearly whites. It’s a momentous occasion! By age three, they’ll probably have a complete set. While adorable, your little one’s grin will go through more dramatic changes a few years later when they start to lose those heard-earned teeth. Given their fleeting nature, why do baby teeth matter? Aren’t they just going to fall out anyway? Well, they will eventually be replaced by the big, bad permanent teeth but in the meantime, they need to stick around until they’re ready to be added to the Tooth Fairy’s collection. While the importance of primary teeth is often underestimated, they serve a number of purposes and play a crucial role in your child’s oral health and development.

The Baby Teeth Basics

Primary teeth go by a variety of names, including baby teeth, deciduous teeth, temporary teeth and milk teeth. Whatever term suits your fancy, they’re actually already in your baby’s mouth at birth just waiting under the gums for their moment to make an entrance. The first tooth usually erupts around six months of age with the last typically coming in by three-years-old. The baby teeth then fall out, or shed, beginning at six or seven all the way through age 12. However, most people don’t have all 32 permanent chompers for quite some time. In fact, it can take up until you’re 21-years-old for it to happen.

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The Functions of Primary Teeth

Now, on to the functions of baby teeth. Some of their roles include:

  • Saving Space and Encouraging Proper Development – Baby teeth act as placeholders and save room for the grown-up teeth to erupt correctly. They also facilitate proper jaw and muscle development and the development of facial features. If a baby tooth falls out early, the other teeth often shift to fill in the space, which can lead to misaligned permanent teeth and jaws and potentially the need for extensive orthodontic treatment or, in extreme cases, surgery and extractions. While a lot of kids may end up wearing braces or Invisalign Teen in their teenage years, the degree of misalignment and the complexity of their case will influence how complicated treatment is, as well as its duration and cost. Obviously, reducing the odds of serious orthodontic issues by keeping baby teeth healthy is preferable.
  • Allowing for Proper Chewing – Over time, kids learn to chew correctly, which encourages good nutrition and overall health. When a child has tooth decay, malformed teeth or pain, they’ll stick with the foods that are the easiest to eat, which limits their diet and increases the chances they’ll be underweight, malnourished or deficient in vitamins and minerals.
  • Aiding in Speech Development – Learning to talk is so crucial for your child’s cognitive and social development. The teeth play a part in our ability to speak clearly and produce certain sounds, particularly consonants. When the teeth are in the right place, we’re able to form sounds that rely on our tongue touching the top teeth, our teeth directing the flow of air or the tongue having enough room to do its thing. When kids lose their front teeth, they might temporarily have a lisp or make hissing sounds when talking but this goes away and they’ve already learned to speak correctly. If they’ve never had the chance to learn proper pronunciation, fixing the issue can be more difficult.
  • Boosting Self-Esteem – Having a healthy, beautiful smile gives children confidence and they’ll be less likely to be distracted by tooth discomfort or insecurities about their appearance, allowing them to focus on school, socialization and just being a kid.
  • Ensuring Long-Term Oral Health – Tooth decay can result in childhood gum disease, technically called periodontal disease. In early stages, gum disease can be treated and reversed. However, once it reaches the level of periodontitis, it can only be managed and not cured. Eventually, if not dealt with, gum disease causes the deterioration of the bone and tissues that hold the teeth in place, which can make them fall out.

Caring for Primary Teeth

Caring for baby teeth starts a few days after birth. Even though your infant isn’t eating solid food, the natural sugars in formula and breast milk can actually cause cavities. Simply wrap a wet washcloth or piece of gauze around your finger and use it to wipe down your child’s gums. If your water isn’t fluoridated or your little one won’t be drinking tap water, you should ask your pediatrician about fluoride supplements, which can usually be taken after six-months-old.

When your tot gets their first tooth, use a small, soft-bristled, infant-sized toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush their teeth twice a day. As for flossing, once any two teeth are touching, help them floss once daily. For those ages two to five, brush their teeth in the morning and before bed for two minutes each time with a pea-sized dollop of fluoride toothpaste. You’ll need to help with brushing until they can do it effectively on their own. Once they have the skills to brush and floss, just be sure to monitor their oral hygiene routine until age seven or eight. Sealants and fluoride treatments can also be extremely beneficial for preventing cavities and a great way to bolster your efforts.

Aside from a stellar brushing and flossing routine, the most important thing you can do for your kiddo’s smile is see a dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. The American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend children have their first dental visit six months after the first tooth erupts or no later than their first birthday. It’s always a good idea to find a pediatric dentist. They’ve had additional specialty training in the unique oral health needs of children and have expertise in behavioral techniques to make the process a lot easier on both kids and parents. Beyond keeping cavities and gum disease at bay, pediatric dentists can help you eliminate harmful oral habits like thumb sucking and point you in the right direction for a mouthguard to protect your child’s teeth during sports and activities.

When it comes to what foods can impact the health of baby teeth, sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and fruit juice, as well as cookies, candy and other sweet treats are big tooth decay offenders. Limit things with added sugar and simple carbohydrates and, instead, opt for fresh vegetables and fruits, calcium-rich foods, whole milk for babies or low-fat milk for toddlers and school-aged kids, whole grains and lean protein. Water is the ideal beverage and never put your child to bed with a bottle even if it’s just milk. For even more pointers, check out our nutrition guide.

Now that you’re well-versed in baby teeth importance and how to care for them, set your child up for smile success by finding the right dental home. Do you live in the Denver area? Schedule an appointment at Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry and leave those primary teeth in the hands of a board-certified pediatric dentist in Englewood or Central Park. Our offices are super kid-friendly, fun and lively. In addition to making going to the dentist a positive experience, we’ll ensure their baby teeth are healthy and doing their job, so their permanent smile is a dazzling one.

Start Your Kid’s School Year Off With a Smile and Healthy Teeth

Start Your Kid’s School Year Off With a Smile and Healthy Teeth

By Kids Dentistry

Start Your Kid’s School Year Off With a Smile and Healthy Teeth

It’s hard to believe Kids Mile High patients are back in school kicking off another year of classes, activities, sports, and, of course, homework. What happened to those relaxing, warm summer days? With the hustle and bustle – okay, sometimes chaos –of getting to the bus stop on time, finding the groove in a jam-packed schedule and taming a flurry of papers, permission slips and books, it’s not surprising oral health routines can take a backseat. Well, we want to make sure kiddos maintain their membership in our Cavity-Free Club, which is why we’re sharing our tips for dental hygiene for kids when going back to school.

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young-girl-Get-to-Know-pediatric-dentist-denver-Kids-Dentist Better – 20 Questions for Dr. Paddy

Get to Know Your Denver Kids Dentist Better – 20 Questions for Dr. Paddy

By Community, Kids Dentistry

Get to Know Your Denver Kids Dentist Better – 20 Questions for Dr. Paddy

At Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry, of course, we consider Dr. Paddy to be the coolest, best Englewood kids dentist and the kiddos that come into the office happen to think he’s pretty awesome too. One of the keys to getting children to love sitting in the dentist’s chair is finding a doc who makes things fun, engaging and educational, which describes Dr. Paddy perfectly. But, don’t just take our word for it. Check out his answers to our little game of 20 Questions and get to know your favorite Denver pediatric dentist a little better!

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Why Dental Hygiene is Extremely Important for Children With Special Needs

Why Dental Hygiene is Extremely Important for Children With Special Needs

By Kids Dentistry

Why Dental Hygiene is Extremely Important for Children With Special NeedsWhen Dr. Paddy was earning his degree to become a pediatric dentist, he also underwent advanced training to learn the ins and outs of dentistry for special needs patients. The additional education is necessary because there are challenges and considerations for children with certain developmental, emotional, physical, cognitive or medical conditions. While the truth is, all kids are unique, which is why we offer personalized care that takes into account their personalities and preferences, some young patients have dental anxiety, sensory likes and dislikes, medical issues and other factors that make visiting the dentist and even brushing and flossing difficult. We know that every case is different, however, based on our experience at Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry, there are some steps parents can take to help boost the dental health of kids with special needs.

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10 Tips for Helping Kids Overcome a Fear of the Dentist

10 Tips for Helping Kids Overcome a Fear of the Dentist

By Kids Dentistry

10 Tips for Helping Kids Overcome a Fear of the DentistWe’ve had a lot of parents visit Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry concerned that their two-year-old or three-year-old is scared of the dentist (though dental anxiety in children can happen with any age group). It’s definitely a normal reaction considering a stranger is attempting to look around in their mouth with various instruments. Even adults can be a little freaked out by the prospect! Yet, knowing this doesn’t mean that if a child won’t open their mouth at the dentist or they refuse to even sit in the chair, parents won’t be a bit stressed out. The good news is that taking certain steps can go a long way in alleviating dental phobia in kids. When little ones are comfortable with regular visits and have warm and fuzzy feelings towards their dentist, it sets the stage for a lifetime of good oral health because as grown-ups, they’ll be more likely to schedule checkups and address any issues right away. Here are 10 ideas for turning your child into a brave little patient to make your life easier and ensure they develop a positive outlook on dental care.

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Food and Nutrition Guide for Kids Healthy Teeth

A Food & Nutrition Guide for Kids Healthy Teeth

By Kids Dentistry

Food and Nutrition Guide for Kids Healthy Teeth

 

At Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry, we spend a lot of time advising parents on how to keep their kiddos’ mouths happy and healthy. Much of that advice revolves around how often to brush and floss, how to put the kibosh on things like thumb sucking and pacifier use and which treats to enjoy in moderation to keep the sugar bugs at bay. While these are all important topics and nothing tops brushing and flossing as far as healthy habits to promote strong teeth in kids, nutrition shouldn’t be overlooked either. There are certain foods that are good for children’s teeth, particularly those rich in vitamins and minerals. Combining a balanced diet and excellent oral hygiene could help your child earn their place in the cavity-free club.

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Keeping Your Kids’ Teeth Healthy While Traveling

By Kids Dentistry

When Dr. Paddy isn’t hitting the slopes, making smiles sparkle as an Englewood pediatric dentist or teaching Bubbs, the office mascot, new tricks, he loves to travel. He’s all about encouraging his patients to see the country and the world too. Traveling is an awesome experience for kids. It gets them out of their comfort zone and really expands their horizons. However, with that, comes a break in routine, which often means daily habits like brushing and flossing fall to the wayside. If there’s anything you shouldn’t take a vacation from, it’s keeping your chompers clean. To help, Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry has compiled some excellent tips for maintaining good dental care for kids while traveling.

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Common Dental Problems & Solutions in Kids

Common Dental Problems & Solutions in Kids

By Kids Dentistry

Common Dental Problems & Solutions in Kids

Considering the amount of energy a lot of kids put into trying to get away with not brushing their teeth and their complete and utter lack of fear when it comes to things like running on hardwood floors with socks or playing catch with unwieldy items, it’s no surprise cavities can rear their ugly heads and baby teeth can get knocked loose before their time. While many dental issues might not seem like a big deal when it comes to kids because they’re going to lose their teeth anyway, the primary teeth serve important functions including saving space for the permanent teeth and helping with speaking and chewing. Staying on top of your little one’s oral care is important. There are some common dental problems in children we see time and time again at our Englewood pediatric dentistry office but thankfully each one has a fairly simple solution.
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