5 Common Dental Problems in Children and How to Prevent Them

Little boy at dentist chair. Children dental.

Your child’s health and well-being become your top priority when you’re a parent. You strive to ensure they eat right, get enough sleep, and stay active. However, one aspect of their health that can sometimes be overlooked is their dental health. This is a crucial part of their overall well-being, and neglecting it can lead to severe problems.

At West Covina Family Dentist, we understand the significance of dental health from an early age. We firmly believe that instilling good dental habits in children can set the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and smiles. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing top-notch dental care for your little ones and educating parents about the importance of regular dental check-ups.

In this blog post, we aim to highlight five common dental problems children often encounter. But we won’t stop there. We’ll also provide practical tips and advice on preventing these issues, ensuring your child’s smile remains bright and their mouth healthy. So, let’s dive in and explore these topics together because knowledge is the first step toward prevention.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, often called dental cavities, is a prevalent issue among children. It’s a condition that arises when harmful bacteria in the mouth start to produce acids. These acids are not just ordinary substances; they have the potential to cause significant damage to your child’s teeth.

When your child consumes food, mainly those high in sugar and starch, the bacteria in their mouth get to work. They break down the food particles and, in the process, produce acids. These acids then start to attack the enamel, the hard outer layer of the teeth. Over time, they can erode this protective layer, forming small holes or cavities in the teeth.

This process of tooth decay occurs but doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process, but if left unchecked, it can lead to severe dental problems, including tooth loss. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the signs of tooth decay and take preventive measures early on.


Preventing tooth decay is not as daunting as it may seem. It involves instilling good oral hygiene habits in your child early on. Fluoride is a mineral that can help strengthen tooth enamel and make it more resistant to the acids produced by bacteria. It’s like giving your child’s teeth a protective shield against preventing tooth decay too.

In addition to brushing, make sure your child flosses daily. Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth and along the gum line, areas a toothbrush can’t always reach. This daily routine of brushing and flossing can significantly reduce the various risk factors of tooth decay.

However, even with the best at-home dental care, regular check-ups at a professional dental clinic like West Covina Family Dentist are essential. These visits allow dental professionals to thoroughly clean your child’s teeth and check for early signs of decay. If any symptoms are detected, they can immediately prevent further damage. Remember, early detection urgent treatment and intervention are crucial to preventing severe dental problems.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, or gingivitis, is another common dental issue affecting children. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the gums, causing them to become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding, especially during brushing or flossing. While these symptoms of oral disease might seem minor initially, they should not be ignored.

If bacterial infection advanced gum disease is left untreated, gingivitis can become a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. This condition can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that can become infected. Over time, this can lead to the breakdown of the bone and tissue that hold the teeth’ swollen gums in place, potentially resulting in tooth loss.

Moreover, research has shown that gum disease can become chronic diseases that have implications for national health well beyond oral health. It has been linked to systemic health issues like heart disease oral cancer and diabetes. Therefore, it’s crucial to take gum disease seriously and seek treatment at the earliest signs.


Preventing gum disease primarily revolves around maintaining good oral hygiene practices. Regular brushing and flossing are the cornerstones of this. Please encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day, ensuring they clean all surfaces of the teeth. This helps to remove plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that can build up on the teeth and gums and contribute to gum disease.

Flossing is equally important. It helps clean the spaces between the teeth, and along the gum line, areas a toothbrush can’t always reach. By removing food particles and plaque from these areas, flossing can help prevent the inflammation and infection that lead to gum disease.

However, even the most diligent brushing and flossing at home can’t replace professional dental cleanings. During these cleanings, dental professionals use special tools to remove tartar (hardened plaque) and clean hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Regular dental check-ups with dental professionals will also allow them to spot early signs of gum disease, enabling early intervention and treatment.

So, make sure to schedule regular, dental treatments and check-ups for your child. At West Covina Family Dentist, we offer comprehensive dental cleanings and exams to help keep your child’s smile and teeth healthy and bright.

Bad Breath

Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is not uncommon in children. While it can sometimes result from eating certain foods like garlic or onions, persistent bad breath may indicate a deeper issue. It could be a sign of inadequate or poor oral hygiene or a symptom of an underlying dental problem.

When your child doesn’t always brush your teeth or floss regularly, food particles can remain in the mouth, leading to bacterial growth on the teeth, tongue, and gums. These bacteria can produce unpleasant odors, resulting in bad breath. Moreover, dental issues, or oral health problems with conditions such as cavities, gum disease, or oral infections, can also cause bad breath.

Therefore, if your child consistently has bad breath, it’s important not to dismiss it as just ‘morning breath’ or the result of something they ate. It could signal that your child’s poor oral health needs more attention. Regular brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups and make-ups can help keep bad breath at bay and ensure your child’s mouth stays healthy.


Promoting regular brushing habits in your child is crucial, not just for their teeth bleeding gums but also for their tongue. The tongue can harbor bacteria and food particles, contributing to bad breath. Therefore, ensure your child brushes their teeth and tongue thoroughly daily. This will help to keep their mouth clean and fresh.

However, if your child’s bad breath continues despite regular brushing and flossing of other teeth, it may be time to seek professional help. Persistent bad breath could be a sign of an underlying dental issue that needs to be addressed.

Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with West Covina Family Dentist. Our team of dental professionals is experienced in diagnosing and treating a wide range of dental issues. We can help identify the root cause of your child’s bad breath and provide appropriate dental treatment and options. Remember, early intervention can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems. So, if your child’s bad breath persists, seek professional advice.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is common in many children, particularly during sleep. This involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth can seem harmless at first, but it can lead to significant dental issues over time.

The constant pressure and friction caused by grinding can gradually wear down the teeth’ enamel, the hard outer layer. This can result in flattened, fractured, or chipped teeth. Moreover, it can lead to an increased risk of tooth sensitivity and pain as the protective enamel layer of sensitive teeth gets worn away, exposing the more sensitive inner parts of the tooth.

In addition to the oral cavity and damaging the teeth, bruxism can also cause problems with the jaw, leading to disorders of the temporomandibular joint (the joint that connects the jaw to the skull). This can result in jaw pain, headaches, and difficulties opening and closing the mouth.

Therefore, it’s important to address the issue promptly if you notice your child grinding their teeth, especially during sleep. Early intervention can help prevent the long-term effects of bruxism and maintain your child’s oral health.


If your child has a habit of grinding their teeth, one potential solution could be using a night guard. This custom-made oral appliance fits over the teeth, creating a barrier between the upper and lower teeth. The night guard helps to protect the teeth from the damaging effects of grinding, reducing wear and tear on the enamel.

However, it’s important to note that a night guard doesn’t cure bruxism; it merely helps to manage the condition and prevent further damage to the teeth. The underlying cause of the grinding, which could be anything from stress to misaligned wisdom teeth themselves, still needs to be addressed.

This is where regular dental check-ups come into play. During these visits, dental professionals can examine your child’s teeth for signs of grinding, such as worn-down teeth, cracked or broken teeth, and increased tooth sensitivity. They can also discuss your child’s symptoms, habits, and medical history to identify potential causes of the grinding.

By detecting the issue early, they can recommend appropriate treatments, including stress management techniques, behavior therapy, or dental procedures to correct misaligned teeth. So, make sure to schedule regular dental check-ups for your child. At West Covina Family Dentist, we’re committed to helping your child maintain a healthy and beautiful smile.

Over-retained Baby Teeth

In a typical developmental process, a child’s baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, naturally loosen and fall out to make way for permanent teeth. However, a baby tooth sometimes doesn’t fall out as expected when the permanent adult tooth itself is ready to emerge. This can result in a situation where the new, permanent tooth starts to come in while the baby tooth is still in place, leading to two teeth occupying the same spot.

This condition, often called an over-retained baby tooth, can cause the permanent tooth to become crooked or misaligned. It can also lead to crowding, where there isn’t enough space for the permanent tooth’s surface and teeth to come in properly. This can affect not only the appearance of crooked teeth on your child’s smile but also their oral function, potentially making it harder for them to chew or speak clearly.

Therefore, if you notice that your child’s baby tooth hasn’t fallen out and the permanent tooth is starting to come in, it’s important to seek dental advice. Early intervention can help to prevent potential complications and ensure the healthy development of your child’s permanent teeth.


Regular dental check-ups are crucial in monitoring your child’s oral development. During these visits, dental professionals can keep a close eye on the progress of your child’s teeth, including the shedding of baby teeth and the emergence of permanent ones.

These check-ups and dentist appointments aren’t just about spotting cavities or cleaning teeth; they’re also an opportunity for the dentist to identify potential issues in your child’s oral development. For instance, if a baby’s tooth is not falling out as it should, the dentist can detect this early and take necessary action. This might involve extracting the over-retained baby tooth to make way for the permanent tooth, or it could apply a wait-and-see approach if the baby tooth is close to falling out on its own.

In addition to monitoring tooth development, regular dental visits also provide an opportunity to reinforce good oral hygiene habits, discuss any concerns or questions you might have, and build a positive relationship between your child and their dentist. This can set the stage for a lifetime of good oral health.

At West Covina Family Dentist, we’re committed to providing comprehensive dental care for your child, helping to their proper oral hygiene and health conditions to ensure their smile stays healthy and bright as they grow. So, schedule regular dental check-ups for your child – it’s one of the best things you can do for their oral health.

Preventing dental problems in children starts with good oral hygiene habits and regular dental check-ups. At West Covina Family Dentist, we are committed to helping your child maintain good oral health through hygiene products, health, and a healthy smile. Contact us today to schedule your child’s next dental check-up.

Remember, a healthy smile is a happy smile!