Common Problems

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Southwest Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics proudly offers advanced pediatric dental care to children in the Littleton area. Dr. Scott Pankratz and Dr. Kyle Klepacki, certified specialists in their fields, and highly trained team members are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art dental treatments to address common oral health problems in children. We know that good oral hygiene practices are important and should be implemented at an early age. Continue reading to learn more about common problems that we treat and more.

Tooth Decay

Caries, or tooth decay, is a preventable disease. While caries might not endanger your life, it may negatively impact your quality of life.

When your teeth and gums are consistently exposed to large amounts of starches and sugars, acids may form that begin to eat away at tooth enamel. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as candy, cookies, soft drinks and even fruit juices leave deposits on your teeth. Those deposits bond with the bacteria that normally survive in your mouth and form plaque. The combination of deposits and plaque forms acids that can damage the mineral structure of teeth, with tooth decay resulting.

Tooth Pain

Begin by cleaning around the sore tooth meticulously. Using warm salt water, rinse the mouth to displace any food trapped between teeth. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you use aspirin on the aching tooth or on the gum. In the event of facial swelling, apply a cold compress to the area. For temporary pain relief, acetaminophen is recommended. See us as soon as possible.

Teething

Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay (childhood caries). Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.

Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.

Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking:

  • Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behavior; instead, praise them when they don’t thumb suck.
  • Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety—thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort.
  • Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.
  • Place a bandage on the thumb or a sock on their hand at night.

Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA), describes breathing which stops because the muscles involved don't receive the proper signal from the brain. The most common form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Mixed/complex sleep apnea is a combination of CSA and OSA. Loud snorers may have a serious case of blocked air passages, known as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). In these cases, the blockage of air is so great that no air can get through, causing repeated awakenings throughout the night. Obstructive sleep apnea can contribute or lead to many other conditions, such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and depression, so it is important to be diagnosed by a medical professional if you experience any sleep-related symptoms.

Acid Reflux (GERD)

Gastroesophegeal reflux disease, better known as GERD or simply acid reflux, occurs when acid in the stomach flows back into the food pipe (esophagus) causing irritation. Among the other effects of acid reflux, GERD also has the potential to damage your teeth, as stomach acid is powerful enough to cause erosion of dental enamel. If you have acid reflux or suspect you have it, be sure to mention it to our office when coming in for an evaluation – identifying the underlying cause of dental erosion can help prevent repeated treatment in the future.

Canker Sores

Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. Generally lasting one or two weeks, the duration of canker sores can be reduced by the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents. The canker sore has a white or gray base surrounded by a red border.

Orthodontic Problems

A bite that does not meet properly (a malocclusion) can be inherited, or some types may be acquired. Some causes of malocclusion include missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth or misaligned jaws. Accidents or developmental issues, such as finger or thumb sucking over an extended period of time, may cause malocclusions. There are many orthodontic problems that can be detected early and are examples of why a trained professional should evaluate your child during his/her growth and development. Dr. James Urbaniak, an orthodontic specialist, will be able to identify problems early on, and recommend an appropriate orthodontic treatment plan for your child. At Southwest Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, our team of doctors allows you to easily continue your child's dental care in a single office, with a staff you can trust!

Contact Us At Our Littleton, CO Pediatric Dental Office

If you believe that your child is experiencing any of the above common problems, or you have questions about our pediatric treatment plans, we recommend that you contact our office and a friendly staff member will be happy to schedule an appointment with our pediatric dental specialists. We look forward to helping your family create healthy, beautiful smiles for life!