If your 5-year-old child pockets their food during meals, you may wonder why they do it and what you can do to stop it. According to the Checkup Newsroom, pocketing is a term used to describe children who store food in their cheeks when they eat, which makes them look similar to small chipmunks. Toddlers tend to pocket food until they learn to chew and swallow better. Once children reach age five, they generally stop storing food in their mouths. Your child may have a developmental problem, illness or another issue that doesn't allow them to chew, move or swallow food properly. The food can mix with the bacteria inside your child's mouth and eventually decay their teeth. Here's more information about pocketing, how it affects your child's dental health and things you can do to stop it.
Why Do Kids Pocket Food?
According to the source above, kids can pocket food for a number of things and reasons, including mouth sores and a weak tongue. Mouth sores are small ulcers that develop on the gums, tongue and several other areas of the mouth. The sores can develop from food allergies, mouth injuries, illness, and even toothpaste. Ulcers can burn or become painful when your child eats foods that contain citrus and acids. To keep from experiencing these issues, your child may place their food in an area of the mouth that doesn't hurt, or they may spit some of the food out.
Your child may pocket food because they may have a problem moving or controlling how their tongue moves when they eat. The tongue and other tissues may be too weak from poor muscle tone to chew and push food around the mouth and down the throat. It's possible for your child to gag when they attempt to swallow food, which may deter them from eating.
The pocketed food can cause a number of issues with your child's dental health, including tooth decay. Tooth decay develops when bacteria mixes with particles of food and create a slimy substance called plaque. Plaque can coat the surfaces of your child's teeth and hide between their teeth. The substance also has the ability to hide close to the gumline. Because adult teeth are so close to the roots of baby teeth, it's possible for tooth decay to develop in primary teeth and affect the adult teeth following behind them.
Taking steps to stop your child's pocketing is critical to protecting their dental health.
What Can You Do to End Your Child's Pocketing Problem?
It's important that you allow a dentist examine your child's mouth to see why they pocket food. A dentist may take X-rays of your child's mouth to see if they have tooth decay or an infection that causes pain when they eat. Sometimes, abscesses can develop in the roots of decayed teeth. If your child isn't capable of expressing themselves quite yet, they may not know how to tell you that their teeth hurt. Filling the cavities or removing the infected tissues of bad teeth may help solve this issue.
A dentist may also check the soft tissues of your child's mouth to see if they have sores. If so, a provider may ask you to rinse your child's mouth with warm salt water to alleviate the pain. You can also limit your child's intake of acidic and citrus-based foods during meals. You might serve your child cool and watery fruits diced in small, easy-to-swallow pieces to help them eat better. The water inside the foods may keep your child's mouth moist, which may encourage them to swallow instead of pocket the food.
If none of the things above help your child eat better, a dentist may refer them to a specialist for care. Your child may have an underlying problem that needs additional treatment to solve. For more information about pocketing, contact a children's dental care specialist or have a peek at this web-site for more information.