Every parent wants their child to grow up with straight, healthy teeth. Straight teeth boost our self-esteem and have been shown to influence how often a person smiles and how happy someone rates their life. That’s pretty substantial. There is plenty of information out there about what to do once your child’s teeth are crooked. But is there anything you can do to prevent crooked teeth in the first place? Read on to find out more. You can also book a consultation with us at Riverstone Family Dental by calling 8678 3538 or booking online. A quick and easy assessment of your child’s bite can help you understand what your options are and ways to prevent crooked teeth.
How can oral hygiene affect whether your child’s teeth are crooked? Baby teeth hold the space open for future adult teeth. If a baby tooth is lost too early, the teeth next door can move, tilt and drift into that space. When the adult tooth is ready to come through, there is little room left for it to fit in, resulting in crooked teeth. This is why it is so important to look after baby teeth. Yes, they will be lost – but if lost too early due to decay, your child may end up with crooked teeth. Start here: help your child brush their teeth twice a day, limit sugary foods and drinks and see your dentist every 6 months.
Thumb sucking and pacifiers
Thumb sucking and using pacifiers (dummies) after the front teeth have come through can drastically affect your child’s bite and appearance. As a rule of thumb (excuse the pun) any habit which occurs for more than 6 hours per day can change the soft tissue of the mouth. These habits can push the front teeth forward (bucky teeth) and even create an open-bite. Thumb sucking and pacifiers at an early age are okay. However, studies tell us that these habits should ideally stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years of age. If your child is thumb sucking past the age of 7 years old, they risk permanently affecting where their front teeth sit. As well as this, their lower teeth may become crooked, their upper jaw will become very narrow and possibly require expansion to correct it. Lastly, they may also develop a tongue thrust habit. This is where your child will place their tongue in between their upper and lower front teeth when they are talking or swallowing. Start here: quit the dummy as soon as you are able to and ensure the thumb doesn’t replace the dummy.
Poor tongue and lip posture
What on earth is good tongue posture? Picture yourself swallowing. As you go for a swallow, your tongue rests on the roof of your mouth. This position is good tongue posture. The contrary is low and forward tongue posture – often seen in kids who keep their mouths open throughout the day. Poor tongue posture therefore can cause poor lip posture. Your child’s lips should close at rest. Throughout the day your child should be going about their daily activities with their lips sealing their mouth. You should not see their teeth or tongue poking out or open mouth breathing. Other things to look for are: whether your child has a lisp when they talk, if they thrust their tongue whilst eating or speaking and whether they have a tongue-tie. Start here: observe the way your child swallows food and speaks to ensure they do not have a tongue thrust or tongue-tie. If you suspect a lisp is developing, see a speech pathologist as soon as you can.
Mouthbreathing or snoring
Mouth breathing and snoring can also lead to crooked teeth. When you breathe through your mouth, you have to bring your tongue forward. This creates the same problem as tongue thrusting. Mouth breathing can develop due to:
- enlarged adenoids and tonsils
- deviated septum or large turbinates in the nasal passage
- repeated upper airway infections
- sinusitis or sinus-related problems
- sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea
Start here: if you suspect your child is a mouth breather, book a consultation with an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist.
I hope you have found this blog helpful.
At Riverstone Family Dental we work closely with GP’s, orthodontists, speech pathologists and ENT specialists to ensure your child has the best set of teeth for life. Give us a call on 8678 3538.