2 Dental Challenges Of Toddlerhood

If your little one's teeth adhered to the average eruption cycle, his or her first incisors probably started presenting when he or she was between six and ten months of age.  By the time your child reaches toddlerhood, he or she likely has most of his or her primary teeth.

Although no adult teeth have presented, there are multiple dental concerns that a toddler may encounter. Here are a few of them:

Baby Bottle Decay

If your child has not been weaned from the bottle and he or she is already a toddler, it may be time to switch to a cup. Children often use bottles as soothing mechanisms. As a result, many parents give their child a bottle of milk or juice to help him or her to settle down and rest at nap time or bedtime.

When a child goes to bed with a bottle in his or her mouth, the fluid can pool around the child's teeth. During periods of rest, the swallowing reflex of your child decreases. This means that decay-causing liquids have more time to damage your child's teeth.

Damage is further exacerbated because salivary production also declines during rest times. Thus, there is too little saliva available to help rinse sugary substances from the teeth.

The bacteria that reside in your child's mouth feed on simple carbohydrates. As a by-product of glycolysis, which is the digestive process of the oral bacteria, acid is released. This acid dissolves the tooth enamel to promote decay.

If you are in the process of weaning your child and you are still permitting him or her to use a bottle at times, it is best to fill the bottle with water only. That way, if a child does fall asleep with the bottle still in his or her mouth, there is no damage to the child's teeth. In addition, you can give the child other things to soothe him or her, such as a pacifier.

Thumb Sucking

Some children start to suck their thumb before they are even born. This practice can continue into toddlerhood. When a child sucks his or her thumb, pressure is placed on the child's upper palate. This can force the front teeth forward. Consequently, the child may eventually require braces to correct problems with his or her bite and dental alignment.

If your child regularly sucks his or her thumb, offer the child other things to occupy his or her hands, such as a small toy. In addition, give lots of verbal praise for episodes in which thumb sucking does not occur.

To learn more about the dental challenges that your toddler may face and ways to overcome them, schedule a consultation with a pediatric dentist like Brit E. Bowers, DDS