Parents want the best for their children and a straight set of pearly whites ranks high on their list — if not the top five. While it may not be in your control at all times, there are certain precautions you can take to help develop naturally straight teeth. Let’s see how.
Help Your Child Develop Straight Teeth
- Prevent Tooth Decay
By keeping the baby teeth healthy, you would help your child create enough space in the jaw for the adult teeth to grow in properly. Keep the children’s teeth healthy by teaching them to drink from the bottle by the time they are 12-14 months. Discourage the use of a pacifier as early as you can and brush their teeth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Consider flossing once all the baby teeth have erupted. When it comes to liquids, just stick to milk and water; avoid packaged juice or soda.
- Genetic Considerations
No matter how mindful you are about instilling healthy oral habits in your kids, some will naturally have crooked teeth. It can be difficult for the parents to determine if they will grow straight or continue to grow crooked. In most cases, the teeth straighten out naturally as permanent teeth come in.
If the child’s jaw is too small, there might not be enough room for the adult teeth to come in. This causes the teeth to shift once they erupt, thus leading to overcrowded teeth. This can be genetic too — kids can inherit large teeth if their parents have them. Large teeth combined with a smaller jaw can lead to crooked teeth.
It is also possible for the kids to have an underbite or an overbite which causes the teeth to come in crooked.
- Discourage Thumb-Sucking
Every child sucks their thumb. It is a natural reflex that helps soothe them, however, too much of it can damage the alignment of the kids’ teeth and roof of their mouths. Those who suck thumbs vigorously are more likely to develop problems with crooked teeth as compared to those who just rest their thumb in their mouth.
Generally, children stop thumb-sucking between the ages of 2 and 4 years but if it continues beyond that, take measures to discourage it. Try praising them when they don’t suck the thumb, bandage the thumbs or try to calm them down every time they get anxious and stick their thumb into the mouth.
- See an Orthodontist
The recommended age for the kids to see an orthodontist is at the age of 7, even if their teeth seem perfectly fine. The dentist can determine if the child’s teeth are growing straight and whether there are any problems with the jaw and bite. Early treatment will prevent orthodontic issues before they become major problems.
Raising Kids with Naturally Straight Teeth
Some other tips that help in raising kids with naturally straight teeth include:
- Practice extended breastfeeding as it naturally trains your kids to swallow properly.
- Practice various baby-led weaning methods and avoid feeding them mushed food for too long. Mushed baby food teaches the kid to suck the food in, which creates an imbalance in their swallowing and large cheek muscles. Practicing baby-led weaning and introducing pieces of food helps in transitioning their ‘breastfeeding swallow’ to proper swallowing of food.
- Keep their nasal passage clear so that they don’t get into the habit of breathing through their mouths. Use a warm mist humidifier or a nettie pot to help clear nasal passage.
- If you notice things like food texture sensitivities or mouth breathing, visit a dental expert who can help you correct the problems early on.
Naturally straight teeth are obviously good news but there is no need to worry if your kids do end up with crooked teeth or an uneven bite. There are various orthodontic procedures to help straighten the teeth and give your child a beautiful smile.
Aesthetics in Orthodontics: six horizontal smile lines Carlos Alexandre Câmara Specialist in Orthodontics (FO-UERJ). Certified member of the Brazilian Board of Orthodontics and Facial Orthopedics (BBO)
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