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Early Detection of Dental Problems in Kids

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Early Detection of Dental Problems in Kids

8 min read


Dental problems seen in children can be corrected by taking appropriate preventive steps in the growing stage itself. This article acts as a guide for the same.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. P. C. Pavithra Pattu

Published At January 11, 2017
Reviewed AtOctober 5, 2023


It is very important to routinely examine the intraoral region of the kids for any anomaly of soft tissues or hard tissues. For this, the parents should have a basic knowledge about the function of the mouth and the intraoral parts and its esthetics.

What Are The Common Dental Conditions in Children?

  1. Tongue tie.
  2. Early childhood caries.
  3. Cavities seen in milk teeth molars.
  4. Congenital defects in oral structure.
  5. Unusual occlusion.
  6. Stains or patches or unusual color of teeth.
  7. Oral habits.

1) Tongue Tie:

Parents should check whether the lingual frenum, a fibrous band of tissue seen below the tongue, is very thick and extending till just below the tip of the tongue. If yes, then you should get a consultation with your pediatrician or pedodontic surgeon for its correction, which is usually done around 1-2 years of age. The frenum if attached too high like described above causes a problem called as tongue tie.

Tongue tie results in slurred speech in kids. It is a commonly found pathology, which goes unnoticed in kids and causes much trouble later on and affects the development of speech resulting in low self-esteem and self-confidence. The pathology is corrected by a small surgical intervention to remove the fibrous band and free the natural movement of the tongue.

2) Early Childhood Caries:

Carious lesion or cavities develop in kids mostly seen in the labial surface of the upper four front milk teeth. It is also known as baby bottle caries. This occurs due to the sticking of milk on the labial surface below the upper lip and insufficient cleaning of the area after each feeding. It is important that parents should keep all the teeth, especially the upper and lower front teeth, cleaned using a wet cotton or soft kids toothbrush after each feeding. This helps in removing the milk sticking to the teeth and prevents such carious lesions.

3) Cavities in Milk Teeth Molars:

It is of utmost importance that parents do check for cavities in their child's mouth every two weeks or at least in a month's duration. These cavities need to be filled as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary complications like pain, swelling, root canal treatment and sometimes may even lead to extraction of concerned teeth if left unnoticed for a long time.

It is always said that prevention is better than cure and holds utmost importance for kids as treating kids is very difficult and may cause a permanent fear for dental treatments in the future. Such preventive step will help in avoiding unnecessary medications and anesthetic procedures and will be a lot less headache for parents too.

4) Congenital Defects in Extraoral and Intraoral Structures:

We should visually examine the lips, tongue and palate for any structural defects and if found, then they need to be shown to a pediatric surgeon as soon as possible for its correction and treatment planning. If corrected in early years itself, then it will cause a very little effect on the growth of the child.

Congenital defects are difficult to treat in later years as the growth of the jaw, lips and tongue may be deficient leading to permanent defects in facial features.

5) Crossbite and Unusual Occlusion of Upper and Lower Teeth:

It is important that parents observe the way in which their kids bite. If any discrepancy is found, then it is important that it has to be brought to the notice of your dentist for further examination and follow up. It is necessary to know that all the upper anterior incisor teeth should be in front of the lower anterior teeth. If you see that in normal closed mouth position any upper tooth is behind lower, then it should be brought to the notice of your dentist and he would suggest proper treatment planning and appliance for its correction.

Such anomaly can cause a deficient growth of the jaw and result in decreased esthetics.

6) Unusual Color of Teeth or Stains or White Patches on Teeth:

All color discrepancies of milk teeth or permanent teeth are representative of some defects either developmental or nutritional deficiencies. Thus, it is necessary to examine the color and texture of the teeth and surrounding gums for any visual discrepancies.

Enamel hypoplasia and fluorosis of teeth are common in some specific area due to low or very high quantity of fluoride or due to deficiency of calcium in his or her diet in their formative years. All these can be found out simply by observing the children closely, thus preventing damage and early reparative action can be taken by consulting dentists.

7) Oral Habits like Mouth Breathing or Thumb Sucking:

Thumb sucking and mouth breathing are some of the oral habits, which cause long term pathology in kids if not treated in their correct age. Parents should observe how their kids sleep, whether the mouth is kept open always (which points to either breathing difficulty due to some obstruction of nose) or not.

Thumb sucking habit is common in the first two years, but need to be discouraged whenever we observe them. If both the habits are severe and your child is not correcting it by himself even after three years, then it needs to be shown to a dentist for finding out the exact reason and for taking corrective action necessary to stop the habit.

For further information consult a pedodontist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/pedodontist

Frequently Asked Questions


When Must a Child See a Dentist First?

Parents must routinely examine their kids' intraoral region for any anomaly of soft tissues or hard tissues like milk teeth, permanent teeth, and the jaw. Most oral and maxillofacial anomalies seen in children can be corrected by taking appropriate preventive steps in the growing stage. A child must visit the dentist within the initial six months after the first tooth eruption.


What Are the Symptoms of Tooth Decay in a Child?

 - White spots start to develop on the teeth in the regions involved.
 - The white spots suggest that the enamel is breaking down and can result in premature sensitivity of the teeth.
 - A premature cavity arises that has a light brown color.
 - The cavity turns deeper quickly.
 - The cavity turns to a darker shade between brown and black.


What Are the Most Common Dental Conditions in Kids?

 - Tongue tie.
 - Early childhood caries.
 - Cavities seen in milk teeth molars.
 - Congenital defects in the oral structure.
 - Unusual occlusion.
 - Stains or patches or unusual color of teeth.
 - Oral habits.


What Are the Symptoms of Poor Oral Hygiene?

 - Bad breath or malodor.
 - White spots on the teeth.
 - Yellowish discoloration of the teeth.
 - Bleeding gums.
 - Discolored tongue.
 - Long-standing food deposits.
 - Plaque accumulation.


Do 4-Year-Olds Have Cavities?

It is very important to routinely examine the intraoral region of kids for any anomaly of soft tissues or hard tissues. For this, the parents should have basic knowledge about the function of the mouth and the intraoral parts and their esthetics since cavities can occur at any age.


At What Age Must a Child Begin to Use Fluoride Toothpaste?

It was previously believed and understood that children must not use fluoride toothpaste. Later, this changed to children above the age of two. As of today, there has been a unanimous establishment after several types of research that children can use fluoride-rich toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts.


When Do First Teeth Erupt?

The majority of children usually develop teeth anywhere between the ages of 6 to 12 months. Generally, the first teeth to erupt in the mouth are almost consistently the lower front teeth called the lower central incisors. Most children usually have all of their baby teeth erupted by the age of three.


Is It Worth Treating Cavities in Baby Teeth?

Yes, treating cavities in milk teeth, commonly called baby teeth, is just as vital as treating and filling cavities in permanent or adult teeth. The reason is cavities in milk teeth may lead to the early development of cavities in the permanent tooth since the bacteria leech harmful toxins into the underlying permanent tooth over time.


Is it Possible to Reverse an Early Cavity?

Yes, early caries can be reversed. The catch is to diagnose early caries when they are at the stage of white spots. At this stage, the patient can undergo fluoride therapy which can potentially halt the further development of the cavity. In addition, the saliva's minerals will aid in the same.


How Many Times a Day Must a Child Brush Their Teeth?

It is extremely vital to brush the teeth of children twice a day because of their habits of not rinsing after every meal as well as dwelling in sugary treats quite often when compared to adults. Children do require assistance while brushing to clean each and every surface of their teeth.
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Dr. Naveen Thomas
Dr. Naveen Thomas



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