Two Signs That You Need to Take Your Toddler to the Dentist

It's not always easy to tell if a toddler needs dental treatment, as at this stage of life, most children struggle to express themselves clearly and tell their parents when their teeth or gums are bothering them. Here are two signs that you should take your toddler to a child dentist.

Their breath smells bad all of the time

If you brush your toddler's teeth twice a day, their breath should not smell unpleasant most of the time (unless they have recently consumed foods that have a pungent odour, such as garlic or onions).

If their breath smells terrible even after their teeth have just been thoroughly brushed, you should book an appointment with a child dentist as soon as possible. Bad breath (or halitosis) which is not caused by poor oral hygiene or by a diet rich in malodorous foods is often a sign of an underlying dental condition. For example, individuals who have developed gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) will usually develop chronic bad breath. If this is the issue, you may also notice other symptoms, such as inflammation of your child's gums and small amounts of blood in the sink after you have brushed their teeth.

Other oral conditions, such as xerostomia (chronic dry mouth), untreated Type 1 diabetes and tooth infections can also lead to bad breath. All of these conditions require prompt treatment to prevent them from worsening. Untreated gingivitis, for instance, may eventually develop into advanced periodontitis, which could lead to your child losing their baby teeth before their permanent teeth emerge.

Likewise, if they are suffering from a tooth infection and they are not given antibiotics, they could end up losing the affected tooth. As such, it is vital to ensure that your toddler has their teeth and gums examined by the dentist so that the underlying cause of their halitosis can be identified and treated before it begins to put their health at risk.

Their teeth have a permanent yellowish tinge

Children's teeth do not generally develop extrinsic stains (i.e., surface-level stains that can usually be removed by brushing or with a scale-and-polish treatment). This is because staining of this kind is usually the result of smoking or the consumption of tannin-rich drinks like wine and tea.

As such, if your toddler's teeth start to look a bit yellow, even though you have been brushing them very carefully on a regular basis, there is a chance that they may have developed intrinsic staining. This is where the enamel of their teeth has been worn away, and as a result of this, their teeth's dentin layer (the part of the tooth that is naturally yellow) has become exposed.

Intrinsic staining is permanent and cannot be remedied with a scale-and-polish. Whilst it can be disguised with dental caps, such as veneers, most dentists do not recommend having veneers fitted on a child's non-permanent baby teeth.

In this situation, your child would need to see a dentist so that the cause of the enamel erosion could be identified (this is usually either the excess consumption of fizzy drinks and acidic foods, or poor brushing technique). This will ensure that the same problem does not arise when your child's permanent adult teeth start to develop.