Baby Dental Issues are now identified at a baby's first dental check up. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that all children should see a dentist by their first birthday.
If your grandbaby was a preemie or had medical issues and has not yet developed any teeth by their first birthday or you have noticed other teeth issues, encourage the parents to call a dentist and ask for his or her advice about when to schedule the first visit.
Baby Dental Issues:
Take a close look at your grandbaby's smile
As with many other medical problems associated with prematurity, the smaller and sicker your preemie was, the more likely he or she will develop baby dental issues.
If you are concerned about your preemie's teeth, be sure to see a pediatric dentist or a general dentist who has experience treating premature infants.
According to the pediatric dentist, Dr. Tom Wickersham, Flower Mound, Texas, he expressed that premature birth can affect dental health.
As he explained in a recent visit to his office, that premature birth in humans is defined as birth with less than 37 weeks of gestation. A normal pregnancy runs 40 weeks. Preemies often have health issues, ranging from lapses in breathing to gastrointestinal reflux disease to respiratory distress syndrome.
Then he questioned: "Did
you know that most babies born prematurely also tend to suffer with certain
dental problems?" He would determine today if either twin had an issue.
Due to the size of the babies, how do you sit them in the chair? You don't! My daughter was instructed to sit with her son in her lap with his head facing out. Then the dentist brought his stool to match her knees and he supported each of my grandson's head in his lap. The bright light allowed him to check for issues, but really blurred my picture above! My daughter restrained his arms and legs as the dentist checked each tooth.
My daughter, being a nurse, did know that there was an issue with one of her babies, that was why we were at his office.
Yes, when you look at one of my grandson's teeth, you can see that the enamel hasn't developed properly and his two front and middle bottom teeth are discolored. This is known as enamel hypoplasia. Usually this discoloration is caused by the following:
I had never noticed this issue and it made me realize that my daughter and son-in-law are very aware of their children's health issues! When he smiles, the teeth really aren't visible and you have to pull up his lips to see the issue. They had noticed it while brushing their teeth. His brother's teeth are not affected at this time.
Below is a description of the baby dental issues as listed by the ADA website and from the book by Dianne Maroney, Your Premature Baby and Child that all parents and grandparents should be concerned about:
Tooth discoloration generally occurs only in those preemies who had high bilirubin levels in the NICU. A yellow or brown color is seen only on the primary teeth and cannot be removed by brushing or having them cleaned by the dentist.
The need for braces may or may not be caused by prematurity. Few studies have been done in this area, and dentists continue to debate this issue. Some orthodontists treat preemies' crowded teeth or a palatal groove with a spacer in the first few years of life.
Others believe that the need for braces cannot be determined until the six-year molars have arrived and will not treat any problems until the dimensions of the jaw can be measured. Usually these teeth are smaller than full term babies. Smaller teeth may create gaps, or spaces between teeth, that create a need for orthodontic braces.
Some parents wonder if missing teeth are a result of prematurity. There are no studies showing this association
Preemies with oral aversions or sensory issues may not want the dentist to come near their mouths. An occupational or speech therapist may have some helpful advice for taking your child to see the dentist. It may be best to take your preemie with sensory issues to see a pediatric dentist who specializes in handling difficult situations with children.
What can I do to prevent tooth decay?
It is very important to do the following to prevent tooth decay:
As I have been researching premature infant issues in regards to my twin grandsons, I found this site that may be very helpful to other grandparents. You may want to share this with their parents.
"Preemie Support Group"--Inspire connects patients, families, friends and caregivers for support and inspiration" for premature babies.
Enamel hypoplasia: Enamel issues on baby teeth.
Delayed tooth eruption in babies.
Palatal groove is a narrow groove in the roof of the mouth