If you're like most parents, you watch for your child's developmental milestones and ensure that he or she has the appropriate medical care needed to create a healthy, happy life. You likely know that your child's first dentist appointment should occur by age one and that most children with teeth need routine visits every six months.
However, you may have difficulty determining when and if your child needs to see his or her dentist outside of regularly scheduled visits. Because younger children often cannot articulate their physical symptoms or identify potential health problems, it's up to you to observe and respond to your child's behavior.
In this blog, we list six signs that your child should see a dentist now rather than at his or her next cleaning appointment.
1. Change in Mouth Taste
Some oral health problems, such as dental abscesses, can affect the way your child perceives flavors and the way his or her mouth tastes when empty. You may not be able to test for taste changes, but in this situation you may notice that your child's food preferences have changed suddenly or that he or she refuses most foods altogether.
Additionally, many conditions that affect mouth taste also create bad breath. If your child has good oral hygiene but bad breath, see a pediatric dentist.
2. Missed Milestones
Just like some adults have issues with the development of their wisdom teeth, some children have delays in the appearance of their baby or adult teeth. During your child's first dentist appointment, ask the dentist any questions you have about these milestones.
If you notice that your child's teeth seem to be developing slowly or abnormally, schedule an exam.
3. Pain When Chewing
Toothaches can happen for a number of reasons, but most toothaches hurt worse when the affected person is chewing. If your child expresses pain when eating, he or she needs dental care as soon as possible.
In very young children, this discomfort may manifest as a desire to eat that goes away once a meal starts, rubbing at the jaw and face, or tantrums related to food.
Tooth decay compromises enamel, eventually exposing the nerves inside a tooth. When these nerves become exposed, the affected person may become more sensitive to sugar, warm temperatures, cold temperatures, or all three.
If your child seems to be in pain when consuming foods with these characteristics or avoids them altogether, schedule a dental visit.
Many oral conditions exhibit swelling, either of the gum tissue in the affected area or of the face and neck. If you notice swelling or redness in your child's gums, he or she may simply need to improve daily oral hygiene habits. But gum tissue irritation that persists should be evaluated by a dentist.
If you notice swelling of the cheeks, jaw, or neck, especially if your child seems to be in pain, have an emergency dental appointment. Your child may have a serious tooth infection.
6. Tooth Discoloration
Become familiar with the normal color of your child's teeth. Any discoloration of a child's teeth should be discussed with a dentist to prevent potential complications.
You may notice that your child's teeth develop white spots or streaks, yellowness, or grayness. Each of these discolorations indicates a separate oral health issue that requires professional attention.
While most childhood dental needs do not immediately threaten the health of your child, you should also stay aware of the signs of a medical emergency. If your child exhibits a high fever, confusion or unresponsiveness, or bleeding that doesn't slow in conjunction with a dental problem, seek emergency medical care first.
If you notice any of the above-listed signs that your child needs oral health care, schedule an appointment with your child's pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
For expert dental care for your entire family, trust the team at Sun Dental.