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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month is meant to raise awareness about developing good oral health habits at an early age. Keeping up with your child’s health can be a challenge, and their dental health is no exception. From their first baby tooth, it is important to maintain healthy habits to keep your child’s smile healthy and beautiful. By scheduling regular check-ups and keeping good dental habits at home, our pediatric dentist, Dr. Robert Govoni, at Brushin’ at Belmont will help you keep your child’s smile at its best. Here are some of the most common pediatric issues that can affect your child’s teeth, and how you can avoid them.

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a natural and important part of a child’s development and is not a concern early on. However, continued thumb sucking after permanent teeth begin to emerge can cause issues in the development and alignment of your child’s teeth, which can result in malformation and an overbite. This can cause a need for braces or other dental and orthodontic work in the future. The same issues can occur if your child is frequently sucking on their lower lip or “tongue thrusting,” which is the habit of sealing the mouth for swallowing by pushing the top of your tongue towards your lips.

It is important to remember that these habits are completely normal and acceptable at a young age, and should only be a concern if they continue to around age five when permanent teeth begin to emerge. Your child will need to make the decision to stop these habits on their own, and parents can help by offering positive reinforcement and encouragement.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay, also known as nursing caries and nursing bottle syndrome, is one of the first potential problems that can affect your kid’s teeth. This decay occurs when a child’s teeth come into contact with sugary drinks, such as sugary fruit juices, milk, sugar water, formula, or other sweet drinks. Tooth decay can cause pain and discomfort when eating or chewing, and if left unchecked can cause serious issues in the growth of your child’s permanent teeth. If baby teeth become damaged or fall out, they will be unable to properly guide your child’s permanent teeth into position, resulting in a crowded or crooked smile.

Avoiding baby bottle tooth decay is simple; simply regulate the amount of sugar and sugary drinks your child is consuming. Avoid sugary drinks, especially before putting your child to bed. Instead, use plain water or a pacifier. It is also important to teach your child to drink from a normal cup by their first birthday, as drinking from a bottle for too long can increase the risk of baby bottle tooth decay as well as other dental issues. If noticeable tooth decay occurs, or if your child experiences pain while eating, contact your pediatric dentist.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a result of plaque and tartar building up at the base of the teeth near the gums. Symptoms include swelling, redness, and pain, and if left untreated it can cause serious issues to your child’s teeth, including tooth loss and even bone damage.

Mild gum disease (gingivitis) can be treated easily with a professional cleaning and good dental health habits, but more serious gum disease can require deep cleaning and medications to cure. The most effective way to avoid gum disease, as well as the other issues previously mentioned, is through prevention. By scheduling regular check-ups and keeping up with brushing and flossing at home, you can ensure that your child’s smile will remain happy and healthy.

To schedule a check-up with our pediatric dentist, click the link below. Brushin’ on Belmont is located in Chicago’s Roscoe Village, and we are your one stop shop for all your dental needs. Our pediatric dentist is passionate and dedicated to give you and your child the best possible dental experience. We offer preventative dentistry, sedation dentistry, and orthodontic treatment such as braces, Invisalign, and more!