According to the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, tooth decay is the number one issue that leads to chronic childhood illness.We tend to overlook issues with our toddler’s teeth because they aren’t permanent, right? Not only are baby teeth very important to a child’s development, but the state of a child’s baby teeth can also cause issues for their adult teeth as well.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay has several different names (early childhood caries, nursing caries, and nursing bottle syndrome). This happens when a baby’s teeth are frequently in contact with sugary drinks, such as milks, juice, formula, ect. This will happen if the drink just sits on their teeth, for instance going to sleep with a bottle or while nursing. They will be at risk for tooth decay from bacteria in their mouth that feed on sugar. If your child frequently has a sippy cup or sleeps with a bottle you need to break the habit for the betterment of their oral health.
It’s quite common for infants to find comfort in sucking on their thumb, fingers, pacifiers, or toys. However, if thumb sucking surpasses the age of 5, when the permanent teeth start to come in, that is when you will see the effects and dental problems it can cause. Depending on how frequent the thumb sucking occurs, the teeth can actually be pushed out of alignment, creating an overbite. It can also cause the jaw to become misaligned and issues to the shape of the roof of the mouth. Your child may also develop speech problems due to the mouth being malformed, in general. Be sure to pull fingers out of their mouth after they’ve fallen to sleep.
Tongue thrusting is a natural habit for infants when they are nursing or being bottle fed. Tongue thrusting is the habit of closing the mouth for swallowing by thrusting the top of the tongue forward to the lips. This habit will likely fade once the baby gets older, if not be sure to talk to a pediatric dentist. Similar to the thumb sucking, tongue thrusting causes pressure against the front of teeth, that can cause the same type of damage.
Early Tooth Loss
Losing a tooth too soon usually occurs from tooth decay, injury, or just not enough jaw space. If your child loses their teeth before the permanent ones are in then the teeth nearby could shift. Once the permanent tooth tries to come in there may not be enough room. Shifting teeth can cause the teeth to grow in sideways or crooked. If your child happens to lose a tooth earlier than expected, be sure to contact a pediatric dentist. Crooked or misaligned teeth can cause several problems such as difficulting in chewing and temporomandibular joint problems.
Lip sucking is when you place your bottom lip under your top front teeth, and then suck on it. This will cause an underbite and cause teeth to become unaligned. Your child may also experience a speech problem due to this habit. Lip sucking can also be caused being a thumb sucker. Stopping this habit is similar to the steps for stopping thumb sucking.