Common Dental Problems In Kids
Kids put a lot of energy into trying to get away with not brushing their teeth and often have a complete and utter lack of fear when it comes to things like running on hardwood floors with socks or playing catch with unwieldy items. So it’s no surprise that cavities can rear their ugly heads in children, tooth decay becomes an issue in kids, 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 those baby teeth anyway, these first 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. We see some common dental problems in kids time and time again at our Englewood, Central Park and Thornton pediatric dentistry offices but, thankfully, each issue has a fairly simple solution.
CAUSES OF YELLOW TEETH ON KIDS
Do your kids’ permanent teeth look yellow, right from the get-go? While it might be alarming to see “yellow” permanent teeth on kids erupt beside a whiter baby tooth, no need to worry. It’s normal! Enamel on baby teeth is thinner than on permanent teeth so baby teeth look a lot whiter next to adult teeth and the difference will look less noticeable once more adult teeth start coming in. There’s also more dentin on adult teeth which makes teeth look more yellow under the translucent enamel.
FOODS AND DRINKS THAT STAIN TEETH
On the other hand, yellow teeth on kids could be a sign of dental problems if you notice the color getting worse over time. Inadequate brushing and flossing leads to discolored teeth, as does eating a lot of staining foods — foods with lots of dyes, or dark colored fruits, veggies, sauces, and drinks.
Yellow teeth on kids can also happen from tooth injuries. Blood vessels may break when there’s trauma to teeth, making them appear yellow, brown, gray, or black. And after tooth trauma, burst capillaries can cause blood to collect in the canals within the teeth, making the teeth look discolored. Injury may even affect the health and appearance of your child’s tooth enamel.
It’s not always external factors that cause yellow teeth in kids. Sometimes you just can’t help it since genetics can play a role in the color of teeth. Thin tooth enamel can be genetic, which we mentioned previously can make teeth appear yellow. And thin tooth enamel can also put your child at more risk of tooth decay.
In general, giving our kids supplements is for the good of their health, but too much of certain supplements can cause yellow teeth. For very young kids, fluorosis can happen, which is when baby teeth are exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride in the water, toothpaste or fluoride-fortified foods. Fluorosis can lead to white or brown spots on teeth, which makes enamel look yellow.
Some medical issues can contribute to yellow teeth in kids. Hepatitis, jaundice, and other medical conditions can discolor teeth. Using certain medications during pregnancy or early childhood such as tetracycline can cause a bright yellow appearance in young children’s teeth and a brown tinge to teeth in older kids.
If your kids’ yellow permanent teeth are a concern to you or your child, we suggest coming in to see as at Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry. Tooth decay and cavities or gum disease might be lurking just around the corner. Dr. Paddy, Dr. Roger, and Dr. Meredith are more than happy to take a look and let you know if the yellow teeth on your kids are fine or if there are dental problems to address.
TOOTH DECAY IN KIDS
At Kids Mile High, the problem we see the most is definitely tooth decay in children. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay and cavities in children is one of the most common chronic conditions children in the United States experience. About 20% of kids aged five to 11 and 13% of teens aged 12 to 19 have at least one untreated decayed tooth. If not dealt with, cavities can cause infection, discomfort or tooth pain and put a damper on speaking, chewing, and even learning.
CAUSES OF TOOTH DECAY IN KIDS
Tooth decay in kids, just like in adults, is caused by bacteria. Foods that have sugars and starches can leave a sugary film on teeth which activates the bad bacteria in your mouth. While this bacteria is happily eating up the sugars, acid is produced. The bacteria, acid, and your kids’ saliva all together forms plaque that sticks to teeth, and, if not brushed away, can lead to cavities. And the acids themselves can eat away at protective tooth enamel, making your kids’ teeth more susceptible to tooth decay.
There can be a higher risk of tooth decay in kids if they have:
- High levels of the bad bacteria that causes cavities
- A diet high in sugars and starches
- A water supply that has limited or no fluoride in it
- Poor oral hygiene
- Less saliva flow than normal
HOW WE TREAT TOOTH DECAY IN CHILDREN
So what do the dentists at Kids Mile High do about children’s tooth decay? Well, we’re big on preventative dentistry and the first thing we do is encourage regular check-ups and educate parents and kids on proper brushing and on ways to keep little mouths healthy. In addition to cleaning children’s teeth and scraping off that yucky plaque and tartar, we give fluoride treatments and offer sealants, which are extremely effective in strengthening the enamel to ward off tooth decay. If a cavity is found, no worries, it’s not the end of the world! We fill cavities with Herculite composite resin, which is super strong and matches the color of the other teeth so no one will even know your kid has a filling. In cases of severe tooth decay, a kids dental treatment like NuSmile Pediatric Crowns might be suggested, which are tooth-like white crowns especially for kids. These can be placed to restore the tooth and keep it in place until it’s ready to fall out.
DAMAGED OR LOOSE TEETH
The Tooth Fairy is a frequent visitor of any house with kids and the majority of the time, a loose tooth is caused by an erupting grown-up tooth. When a cute, little baby tooth starts to wiggle, it’s getting ready to be replaced with its permanent counterpart and your dentist rarely has to help because the tooth falls out on its own. However, if it doesn’t seem to be vacating your child’s mouth in a timely manner, Dr. Paddy, Dr. Roger, or Dr. Meredith can step in and speed up the process.
KIDS DENTAL TREATMENTS
When there’s injury or trauma to a baby tooth, we do everything we can to save it if it’s too early to extract. Our main list of options includes kids crowns for a missing tooth, a root canal on a baby tooth, and dental space maintainers.
CAN KIDS GET A CROWN FOR A MISSING TOOTH?
You might be familiar with crowns for adults so it makes sense to wonder, “Can kids get a crown for a missing tooth?” Yes, one solution to rescue injured or damaged teeth includes a kids crown for a missing tooth like NuSmile Pediatric Crowns.
ROOT CANAL ON A BABY TOOTH
A root canal on a baby tooth might sound excessive but a dentist might recommend it to save a damaged or decaying tooth. Cavities in a baby tooth that are close to a nerve can be painful because the nerve is more exposed, and even though a filling or crown is often the solution for a cavity, these might cause more pain or lead to an abscess. In addition, fillings or crowns won’t heal the nerve. However, a dental treatment called a pulpotomy — or baby root canal — is a treatment that can save the tooth and resolve any pain.
DENTAL SPACE MAINTAINERS
Now if a tooth is actually removed, the space that’s left typically needs to be kept open with a kids dental treatment like a dental space maintainer. Without one, the teeth around the empty space might start shifting to fill the space and either crowd or prevent the adult tooth from coming in later. There are four types of dental space maintainers and they’re either fixed or removable. The kind we suggest depends on where the space is in your child’s mouth and how many teeth are missing.
If your child or teen experiences a damaged or loose permanent tooth, be sure to call the friendly team at Kids Mile High right away so they can provide a kids dental treatment for the issue.
GUM DISEASE IN KIDS
Gum disease occurs when plaque and tartar build up at the base of the teeth near the gums causing them to get swollen and red. If not treated, gum disease in children (and adults, too!) can lead to tooth loss and damage to the bones. Prevention is key here, which is why regular dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene, and eating foods for healthy teeth are important (see our guide to brushing your child’s teeth for the basics).
At Kids Mile High, we can treat mild gum disease, known as gingivitis, with professional cleanings, and by helping your child establish a good brushing and flossing routine. If the condition gets worse, it might require a kids’ dental treatment like deep cleaning, special rinses, antibiotics, or other medications.
Sensitive teeth might seem like an issue only the older crowd deals with but like we mentioned earlier, kids actually have thinner enamel than adults with their baby teeth. When enamel gets worn down, the gums can recede or cracks can form on the tooth exposing nerve endings. This leads to pain when eating or drinking anything hot or cold. To combat this the dentists at Kids Mile High can apply sealants to strengthen the enamel and if a cavity is present, a filling may be in order. When brushing at home, be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush for your kids.
KIDS COMMON DENTAL DENTAL PROBLEMS & TREATMENTS
You may have noticed the main theme running through all of these kids’ common dental problems is the importance of prevention. Remember that yellow teeth on kids isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm, but regular check-ups, diligent brushing and flossing (with optional extras like kid-safe mouthwash) will go a long way in helping reduce dental problems in kids such as tooth decay and gum disease. Plus, your kid will nab a spot in the Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry’s super prestigious Cavity-Free Club!
Schedule an appointment today with Dr. Paddy, Dr. Roger, or Dr. Meredith at the always-entertaining and fun Englewood, Central Park, or Thornton, CO pediatric dentist locations and ensure your child’s smile is healthy. Whether you’re wondering, “Can kids get a crown for a missing tooth?” or you’re concerned about damaged or yellow teeth, we’re here to help your child have the best teeth possible!