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In the past dentists considered that there was no real need to see children before the age of three. Today we have come to realize that most of the cosmetic dental issues we see in adults today begin before the age of three.

THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

Tongue tied -

  • Causes - this is just something that some babies are born with
  • Symptoms - the child has difficulty breast feeding and fails to thrive as a result
  • Treatment - this requires a medical intervention by a Pediatrician.

ALLERGIES:

Allergies concern dentists because the breathing problems associated with allergies can lead to improper growth and development of the face which can then become orthodontic issues later in life.

  • Causes - the body's immune system recognizes some common things as foreign and launches an attack against them. Some of the most common allergens are dust, pets (dander), foods, chemicals, and molds.
  • Symptoms - watery eyes, runny nose, dark ares under the eyes, snoring, breathing problems, and a failure to grow properly in infants.
  • Treatment - this is best done by identifying the allergens and removing them if possible. Breastfeeding, if possible, is helping in developing a healthy immune system in babies.

NURSING BOTTLE CARIES:

  • Causes - putting a child to bed with a bottle of juice or milk after their first teeth have started to erupt.
  • Symptoms - extensive tooth decay especially in the front teeth with associated pain.
  • Treatment - is very extensive and probably would need to be done by a specialist under general anesthetic. It is certainly better to prevent these early problems by cleaning your child's teeth thoroughly at bedtime. If you wish to give your child a bottle at bedtime it is best to give them water and avoid milk and juice.

CHILDHOOD TOOTH DECAY:

  • Causes - tooth decay is caused by a combination of two factors. Factor one is the consumption of a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Factor two is less than adequate oral hygiene. In children under the age of twelve the parents should have a great deal of control over both of these factors and should bear the bulk of responsibility when things go wrong.
  • Symptoms - child complains of tooth sensitivity or painful teeth. Cavities may be even be visible.
  • Treatment - treatment for these issues can be a very difficult, expensive, and possibly dangerous prospect if general anesthetic becomes involved. It is a better plan to prevent these issues from starting by teaching good oral hygiene and a low sugar/low carb diet. If applicable be aware of oral hygiene and diet in your child care environment as well.

FLUOROSIS:

This is caused by too much fluoride and can result in permanent white patches in the permanent teeth. Avoid fluoride toothpastes and fluoride supplements until the child is at least three.

INFECTIONS AND TONSILLITIS:

These problems are of concern to dentists because tonsillitis can cause breathing problems that can lead to changes in growth and development of the lower face leading to orthodontic issues much the same as allergies.

  • Causes - chronic colds and other infections.
  • Symptoms - chronic sore throat, poor sleep habits, a hard to wake child, tiredness, unfocused during the day, irritability, behavioural issues, bad grades, and an inability to grow properly.
  • Treatment - early detection and treatment of colds and chronic infections. In Canada it is not uncommon for children to suffer from vitamin C & D deficiency in the winter months. Supplementing both of these vitamins during these times can very helpful. In some instances you may have to remove the tonsils but this is less common in current times.

THUMB SUCKING - TONGUE THRUSTING - ABNORMAL SWALLOWING PATTERNS:

All of these problems can be difficult to prevent. Soothers may be a better alternative to thumb sucking. All three of these problems need to be diagnosed early and treated in the appropriate way before permanent damage has a chance to occur.

  • Nutrition - fats and carbohydrates were heavily demonized starting back in the 1970's and may have been taken too far. It is worth noting that fats and proteins are both very important for proper growth and development in children. A certain amount of fats are essential in the proper development of skeletal growth, hormones, and central nervous system. When children have tooth decay due to a high refined diet it is also a good idea to look idea to look at other issues caused by a high carb/high sugar diet. A high carb/high sugar diet can also be associated with hyperactivity, learning disorders, or sleep abnormalities.

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