From the onset of teething through to adolescence, our children’s teeth are continually being exposed to potential complications. Prevention and the development of good oral hygiene habits are key to ensuring healthy, happy smiles.

Here are the top five causes and the mean to prevent them:

1. Tooth decay 

The number one cause for concern to any parent on the list of oral health problems is tooth decay. This issue is prevalent especially in the UAE where sugar-rich diets and poor lifestyle choices contribute to a high rate of tooth decay in children of all ages.

Sadly, we even see tooth decay in babies – a condition known as nursing bottle syndrome. This problem is caused when baby’s teeth come into frequent, prolonged contact with sugary drinks, such as fruit juices, milk, formula, and sugar water. Acid is then produced attacking the newly-forming teeth and stripping away the enamel.

Parents should keep the baby’s bottle clean and sugar-free and avoid dipping it into honey or a sweet liquid before letting them suck on it.

A little-known fact also worth remembering is that cavity-causing bacteria is contagious. Parents should never clean a dropped dummy in their own mouths before giving it back to their baby or toddler.

2. Poor oral hygiene 

Proper brushing and daily flossing as well as regular visits to the dentist and hygienist are essential measures to take when providing good oral health care to children.

Starting this routine when children are young will help them to develop good oral habits for their entire life-time. Poor hygiene leads to gum disease which is serious and can cause tooth loss and lead to overall general health issues as well.

3. Bad dietary habits

It is also essential for parents to reinforce the importance of a good diet to children by reducing the amount of sugar that they consume. It only takes small steps to make a positive change and replacing water with juice or sugary beverages and finding healthy choices for in-between-meal snacks is an excellent start.

4. Dental phobia 

Children who have experienced a great deal of oral problems are far less likely to have a positive association with their teeth and about a dentist visit, leading to dental phobia.

Dr. Roze & Associates, a UAE dental clinic advises creating a positive clinic experience for children in order to reduce potential dental phobia, which is why we always advise young visitors to come in early to get to know us and feel comfortable in the dental chair.

Dr Roze & Associates is also one of just a handful of clinics in the UAE to use laser treatment for young patients, an advanced technology that is beneficial for pain reduction. Laser treatment reduces the time for post-op healing as well as the chance of infection, swelling, discomfort, and scarring.

5. Malalignment 

The last of the five most common dental health problems in children is malalignment, or the incorrect positioning of teeth.

Malalignment can be caused by thumb or finger sucking, which in most cases will not cause any problems.  However, when a child’s permanent teeth begin to come in, the pressure from constant sucking can move teeth out of alignment, causing protrusion.

As thumb or finger sucking is a comfort to children, parents could start by giving children gentle praise for time spent without fingers in the mouth. This positive reinforcement tends to help children to gradually stop with the habit before any protrusion occurs.

Tongue thrusting is another way in which malalignment can occur and is a result of pushing the tip of the tongue against the lips when eating or drinking and placing continual pressure on newly formed teeth.

Your dentist can help identify if tongue thrusting is an issue and advise parents on how to help their child stop the habit.