8 Early Signs Your Kid May Have Problematic Dental Issues

Dental issues and what to do about them

How to recognize signs of developing dental issues in kids.

Except in cases of an impact or injury to the face, most kids’ dental problems develop over time. The good news is that many issues show some easily recognizable red flags in their early stages.

Recognizing these early warning signs and understanding how certain oral habits can cause future dental problems give parents insight into when it’s time to schedule an urgent appointment for their child.

Here are 8 early signs of common dental issues in toddlers, kids, and young teens.

1. Toothache or Tooth Sensitivity

A toothache is a surefire sign that trouble is brewing somewhere. Tooth pain, tenderness, and sensitivity to certain temperatures of food and drink are all reasons for your child to see their dentist.

Remember, if your child is already experiencing tooth pain, it means some level of damage has already taken place. The sooner their dentist is able to treat the problem, the more tooth can be saved.

2. Red or Swollen Gums

Gum disease and gingivitis aren’t adult-only dental issues. Kids can also develop gingivitis and pediatric gum disease. A buildup of plaque is often to blame, and the resulting symptoms include red or swollen gums and bleeding during or after brushing and flossing.

Gingivitis is reversible but requires professional treatment from your pediatric dental team.

3. Discolored Teeth

Sudden discoloration of a baby tooth can be alarming for parents and kids. Sometimes youngsters develop a dark tooth from an impact that causes internal bleeding within the tooth itself. This usually results in the tooth changing from a normal white shade to something closer to gray.

This type of tooth injury does result in a dead tooth, but it isn’t uncommon for young kids who still have most of their baby teeth. However, it’s still important to have their pediatric dentist take a look just in case. And any situation in which a permanent tooth suddenly becomes discolored should be evaluated right away.

4. White Spots on Teeth

On the opposite spectrum is the appearance of odd, very white patches on kids’ teeth. In most cases, these white spots are caused by too much fluoride or certain medications when the teeth were forming. White spots can also be caused by enamel hypoplasia, a condition that causes thin tooth enamel. This often leaves white or even yellowish spots, and if tooth decay sets in, these spots may even be brown. Yet another possible white-spot culprit is decalcification, which happens when plaque sits on the tooth surface too long.

Enamel hypoplasia, decalcification, or a case of a mineral or fluoride imbalance are all things to discuss with your child’s dentist.

5. Bad Breath

Chronic bad breath can be caused by many different issues. Some may be easily solved with things like supervised brushing and flossing sessions to ensure your kid’s at-home oral hygiene routine is on track. However, when your child is brushing properly and bad breath still lingers, it’s time for a pediatric dentist to take a peek.

Tooth decay, gingivitis, and general plaque buildup are all issues that contribute to bad breath and require a dentist for treatment.

6. Canker Sores

Canker sores are extremely common in kids. They can be caused by anything from lip biting to an irritant in your child’s toothpaste or mouthwash.

Small and infrequent canker sores often heal on their own, but if they happen often or aren’t healing within a week or so, call your child’s pediatric dentist for an appointment. If the dentist suspects the sores to be related to a vitamin or mineral deficiency, they may also recommend a follow-up with your child’s general physician.

7. Cracks on Teeth

Cracks on teeth can range from craze lines to fractures. Craze lines are superficial cracks that appear on the very surface of a tooth and don’t mean damage has necessarily occurred. Fractures are true cracks that are more serious and often painful.

A painful, cracked tooth requires an urgent dental appointment. Craze lines don’t necessarily require an urgent appointment, but you can give your child’s dentist a call to inform them of this change. In some cases bruxism (teeth grinding) or a bite misalignment can cause craze lines, and stress fractures may follow.

8. Open-Mouth Breathing

Unless your child happens to have a stuffy nose, open-mouth breathing could be a sign that something is wrong. If you notice your child breathing through their mouth, whether throughout the day or during sleep, you should share this information with their pediatric dentist for a few reasons.

If open-mouth breathing is accompanied by snoring, your child could have obstructive sleep apnea. Open-mouth breathing during the day could also point to a bite alignment issue that’s causing your child to hold their mouth open in order to be comfortable. Both of these problems can be diagnosed and often treated by a pediatric dentist.

Is your child experiencing any of these dental issues?

If your child has been experiencing any of these symptoms or something else unusual with their smile, it’s time to schedule a checkup.

You can schedule a visit at your closest Pediatric Dental Specialists of Greater Nebraska office by calling the location directly or filling out this online request form.