What Are the Most Common Pediatric Dental Problems?

common pediatric dental problems

What Are the Most Common Pediatric Dental Problems?

Setting your children up for a lifetime of good oral health is one of the best things you can do for them. Children can experience a wide range of pediatric dental issues. Luckily, there are many effective treatment options and interventions for these issues.

If you find your child experiencing any of these common pediatric dental problems, do not hesitate to visit your children’s dentist as soon as possible.


Cavities can affect individuals at any age, but we tend to see them more commonly in children. This is due to several factors, notably the number of sugary snacks and drinks most children consume and less-than-satisfactory brushing habits.

Everyone’s mouth has a population of bacteria that is regulated by proper brushing, flossing, and keeping up with routine dental exams. These bacteria eat sugar and produce acid that harms teeth. This tooth decay can eventually lead to holes forming called cavities.

Because cavities provide a space that protects bacteria from brushing, they can quickly worsen over time. Cavities cause sensitivity and can eventually worsen to the point that a child may need a root canal or a tooth extraction.

A simple dental filling can deal with almost any cavity. Prevention is the preferred course of action, though, so make sure that your children are brushing as they should and sticking to healthy, low-sugar snacks whenever possible.

Gingivitis and Gum Disease

Gingivitis is among the most common types of pediatric dental disease. The same bacteria that cause tooth decay can lead to gingivitis, which is the earliest stage of gum disease. As the bacteria grow in greater numbers, they cause bad breath, irritated gums, and swelling.

Brushing around the gumline can help prevent gingivitis from developing. Once this condition takes hold, it can worsen and lead to the more serious stages of gum disease. At that point, pockets can form as the gumline pulls away from the teeth.

These pockets can lead to serious infection, so treatment options like scaling and root planing are necessary. These are like deep cleaning for the affected areas, using special tools to reach hidden bacteria deposits.

Orthodontic Issues

It isn’t uncommon to run into orthodontic issues as your child’s teeth develop. The need for orthodontic treatment is widespread among children. Avoiding treatment doesn’t make the problem go away, so many adults are left in need of treatment as well.

As your child’s teeth come in, they can emerge too close together and cause crowding. This leads to an increased likelihood of other pediatric dental problems like tooth decay. Your child may also have alignment issues, including overbite, underbite, or crossbite, where the upper and lower teeth don’t sit together properly.

Your dentist will be able to identify developmental issues during routine checkups and recommend the appropriate orthodontic treatment. Along with common treatment options like braces, there are also space maintainers and other early interventions that may prove helpful.


Grinding is a serious problem for long-term oral health. During sleep, individuals may find themselves clenching their jaw and grinding their upper and lower teeth together. This gradually erodes the enamel, leading to many issues.

The thinner enamel is more susceptible to tooth decay. It can also cause increased sensitivity. Grinding can also lead to cracks and chips that could require additional treatment.

If your child’s teeth appear worn, your dentist will likely recommend a night guard. This is a simple oral appliance that separates the upper and lower teeth during sleep, preventing grinding from causing damage.

Premature Baby Tooth Loss

Your child will eventually lose all of their baby teeth and develop their adult teeth. However, this is a staggered process, and your child will spend several years with a mix of both baby and adult teeth.

If your child loses a baby tooth due to physical injury or tooth decay, then they could run into developmental issues. While you might expect that it’s fine since they were going to lose it anyway, the gap that is left until the adult tooth naturally emerges can cause problems.

Other teeth can shift into the gap, creating problems as adult teeth emerge. This can lead to crowding and other orthodontic issues that will require braces or other treatment options to resolve.

Affected Pacifier Teeth

Pacifier teeth refer to a number of issues that can arise due to excessive pacifier use or thumb sucking in children. Pacifiers are perfectly safe for infants to use and can provide comfort during the teething process.

However, pacifiers cause issues if use continues throughout childhood. Children past the age of four or five should not be using pacifiers at all. They can lead to a variety of developmental issues, including open bite, overbite, and narrowing of the roof of the mouth.

All of these issues will require orthodontic treatment to resolve. It’s best to stop pacifier use past the age of four and to ensure that your child isn’t engaging in thumb-sucking, which can have a similar effect.

Cracks and Chips

Most children are no strangers to all sorts of bumps and bruises. Whether through play or sports activity, children can also experience physical damage to their teeth. Chips, cracks, and knocked-out teeth are all relatively common among children.

Depending on the extent of the damage, there are several different treatment options for these situations. Many cracks and chips can be restored with a type of dental resin that fills gaps.

In cases of serious damage, a dental crown or other restorative treatments may be necessary. Entirely removing the tooth is generally something dentists will try to avoid in order to provide the best long-term oral health outcomes.

Effective Treatment for Pediatric Dental Issues

If your child is experiencing these or any other common pediatric dental problems, you can reach out to San Diego Children’s Dentistry today for effective treatment options. We provide a full range of pediatric dentistry services and can help your child enjoy long-term oral health. Contact us today to book an appointment.


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