3 Common Pediatric Dental Issues and How to Prevent These

By | October 3, 2018
Common Pediatric Dental Issues

“Oh, he’ll outgrow it. His sister used to suck her thumbs and she turned out fine.”
“It’s just baby teeth.”
“He can’t sleep without his bottle.”

Sometimes, simple things can cause long term damage.

On average, your child’s baby teeth will start emerging at six months and start falling out when he reaches six years of age. Your child may only have his baby teeth for a relatively short while, but in this span of time, he may encounter a variety of pediatric dental issues which can have a long-term effect on his dental health, even when he reaches adulthood.

What are these pediatric dental issues? Here’s a brief list provided by a Melbourne specialist in children’s dentistry.

Problem 1: Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Also known as nursing bottle syndrome and nursing caries, baby bottle tooth decay occurs when a child succumbs to tooth decay due to overconsumption of sugary drinks. These drinks include fruit juices, formula, sugar water, and even breast milk.

The sugars found in these drinks can help create an acidic environment in your baby’s mouth. And these acids can wear away the enamel of your child’s teeth, which may then eventually lead to tooth decay.


Avoid giving your child milk, juices, or other sugary drinks to pacify him. Instead, give him a bottle of water. The same thing applies when you are putting baby to bed.

As much as possible, do not add more sugar to baby’s food.

Upon reaching his first year, baby should be able to drink from a sippy cup. Compared to normal feeding bottles, sippy cups minimize a child’s exposure to sugars from their drinks.

Problem 2: Thumb Sucking and Tongue Thrusting

Common Pediatric Dental Issues - Thumb Sucking and Tongue Thrusting

Sucking on fingers, toys, and other objects is quite common and perfectly natural among babies. For many little ones, the act provides them a measure of both security and comfort.

Ideally, your child should have outgrown this behavior. Otherwise, it can create a host of problems over the short and long term. These problems include misalignment of teeth, bite problems, malformation of the mouth’s roof, and speech problems.

Tongue thrusting occurs when a child seals his mouth before swallowing. Unlike their peers who swallow normally, children who thrust their tongues place theirs on the top of their mouths, just behind the front teeth.

Tongue thrusting can cause problems similar to thumb sucking, including the development of an overbite and speech problems.


The worst thing that you can do to prevent your child from sucking his thumb is to use negative reinforcement. Remember, the habit is often borne out of the need for comfort and security.

Instead of nagging or scolding the child, use positive reinforcements. Provide your child with praise and rewards. You may also want to cover the child’s thumb with a Band-Aid to serve as a little reminder for his goal.

It is also worthwhile to find the root of the problem. For example, if your child sucks his thumb as a coping mechanism for stress, help your child to eliminate the source of stress as well as find ways to better cope with stress.

Tongue thrusting, on the other hand, can be remedied with the help of a speech pathologist. This professional can devise a solution that will help your child create a new pattern for swallowing as well as prescribe him with exercises that will help strengthen the muscles he uses for chewing.

Problem 3: Premature Tooth Loss

Your child will start losing his baby teeth at around six years of age. However, there will be a few instances wherein he may lose his baby teeth earlier than his peers. Sometimes, the tooth loss may be caused by tooth decay and trauma.

Premature tooth loss is a serious pediatric dental issue that should not be taken lightly by parents. When your child loses his teeth early, the remaining teeth may shift while the emerging permanent teeth may come out tilted. Other potential issues your child may face include chewing problems, misalignment of teeth, and joint problems in his jaws.


As with most things, prevention is better than the cure. Schedule regular visits to the dentist. Help your child develop good oral hygiene habits. Encourage him to eat healthy fare. If he plays sports, teach him to wear a helmet and a mouth guard.

If he loses a tooth prematurely, his dentist can use a space maintainer to fill in the gap left by the lost tooth.

An Ounce of Prevention

Your child’s first teeth are not mere placeholders. These help your child develop the skills needed to eat, smile, and speak properly.

Although dentists are now armed with sophisticated and modern dental techniques, keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy boils down to developing good oral hygiene practices as well as establishing a partnership with a trusted dentist. Your chosen dentist can provide you with invaluable advice and insights as well as help you take better care of your child’s oral health.

Author: Dr. Michael Letham

He is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual's requirements, Mike's focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.

You might be reading this while on lockdown yourself, or while watching the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread rapidly and without discrimination, make its way across the world. Help us fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.The donation supports our work, our children, our families, and our community that affect by COVID-19