Some people just have the genes. A smile that shows a set of perfectly aligned teeth. No spacing, gapping, overlapping – you name it. Psssh, some people have all the luck. And then there are the rest of us…the orthodontic anomalies. Where did we go wrong? And is it possible to prevent our children’s mouths from needing corrective repair? Well…just maybe.
There are numerous factors that may contribute to the need of orthodontic treatment. In some cases, misalignment can be genetic and possibly unavoidable. But habits during development can have a staggering effect on the overall alignment and ‘bite’ of teeth that can be avoided.
If you’re currently parenting a thumb sucker or pacifier addict, it is important to monitor and start weaning the little one away from the habit. While at times, it can be the most comforting for your child it’s also slowly causing those front teeth to ‘buck out’. The constant sucking is making that tongue thrust forward. And when the tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the body – you can imagine the force that the teeth are undertaking! So if possible, try to only allow pacifiers and thumb sucking at bedtime until the habit can be broken (kind of like only having sugary juices at meal time!).
While tongue thrusts can result from using the pacifier or thumb, it can also correlate with your child’s heavy mouth breathing. “Really? I thought they just had a stuffy nose!” And a stuffy nose just may be the problem! The presence of allergies or difficulty breathing through the nose all correspond with tongue thrusting. So addressing allergy issues early on can potentially reverse the effects of poor development of the facial bones.
Manageable alterations to these early on-set habits can have a drastic effect on the overall structure of your child’s face and jaw development. Intervening early can decrease the chance of that underbite or overbite, which often require orthodontic care for effective correction. But what happens if it’s just too late or it wasn’t preventable from the get-go? We firmly believe – it’s never too late!
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in five adults is an orthodontic patient. The reason why more adults are excited to accept orthodontic care is because the days of traditional metal braces are now accompanied by several other more cosmetic procedures such as, Invisalign,Six Month Smiles and nearly invisible brackets can take the place of metal (if you prefer).
We’ve also found that when teeth are overcrowded or misaligned (and untreated), problems can arise or simply remain from childhood. Often times, misaligned teeth can cause grinding, which grinds down the surface of teeth and causing chipping and wearing. But it also causes headaches, jaw pain and sleep disorders. Additionally, the onset and eruption of wisdom teeth can cause a shift in your mouth that has been perfectly aligned during your adult years!
With all that said, there are ways to prevent the need for braces or similar orthodontic treatments, and you are never too old to seek orthodontics if necessary! Assessing the alignment and structure of the jaw around age 7 or 8 can provide an indication of whether orthodontic treatment may be inevitable. So keep up with your 6-month check ups, and most importantly, bring up your concerns to Dr. Kellerman – after all, we don’t call him The Sultan of Smiles for nothing! (Ok, we really don’t, but it’s not such a bad idea, eh?)