Kids’ Oral Health: Lesser-Known Red Flags

If you have small children, you are probably doing all the right things to help them build good oral health habits for life: (1) teaching them how to brush and floss, (2) monitoring their fluoride usage, (3) keeping soda and sugar-laden sweets out of their hands, and (4) bringing them to the dentist for routine care. This post is not about the most common risks to oral health that can be prevented, such as tooth decay. This post is about other known oral health factors your pediatrician may or may not have discussed with you. If you notice any of these red flags in your kids, bring them to Knoxville children’s dentist Dr. Jack Haney to learn more.

Are you looking for a new Knoxville children’s dentist? Dr. Jack Haney provides routine preventive and restorative care for kids of all ages. Bring your little and big kids to Jack Haney DDS to learn more about the issues mentioned below.

Excessive Mouth Breathing, Especially at Night

All humans breath better through the nose. If you notice your child breathing through the mouth excessively, you should be wondering why it’s happening. Mouth breathing can indicate an obstructed airway, and it can lead to oral health issues for your child. Sometimes it is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, which may need to be corrected with surgery. Mouth breathing can have a detrimental effect on tooth development, as there’s a correlation with incidence of severe overbite. It may also indicate sleep apnea (it’s not just for adults!) which can affect cognitive development and behavior, and cause health problems.

If you notice your child is a reliant mouth-breather, ask your pediatrician about it. He or she may recommend a pediatric ear, nose, and throat specialist or may want to screen your child for allergies that may be causing inflammation.

Tongue Tie (Short Lingual Frenulum)

When your child sticks out his or her tongue, does it protrude from the mouth? Or barely make it past the lips? The lingual frenulum is the tissue that connects to the tongue to the mouth from underneath. When it is too short, it may affect tooth development and palate growth. This condition is often referred to as “tongue tie.” In babies, it can lead to problems with nursing because it limits the tongue’s range of motion. As children get older, a short frenulum can prevent the tongue from hitting the roof of the mouth when he or she swallows, which affects how the palate develops. This can result in narrow palate and open bite, both of which require orthodontic intervention.

If you notice this condition in a young child, ask your pediatrician about a simple surgical solution to correct it. If a tongue tie is corrected early enough, it can help your child’s future oral health and possibly save you time and money spent at the orthodontist.

Thumb Sucking and Tongue Thrusting

All babies thrust their tongue forward until they start learning how to eat solid foods. Some children, however, continue thrusting the tongue too far forward when they swallow. This unusual tendency can lead to speech problems and affect how the teeth grow in. It is not easy for parents to spot tongue thrusting, but a dentist can usually notice it right away—another good reason to bring your child to a Knoxville children’s dentist for early visits!

Thumb sucking, however, is something all parents will notice and creates similar problems for children. If your child sucks his or her thumb, ask your pediatrician and dentist for suggestions for how to discourage the behavior. Breaking the habit may prevent your child from developing a lisp or having a misaligned bite.

If you notice any of these red flags in your children, visit Knoxville children’s dentist Dr. Jack Haney. We’ll help you understand what’s at stake and what your next steps should be. Call us at 865-693-6886 for an appointment.

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