There are many theories as to why some children have straight teeth and others don’t. Many believe that crooked teeth may be a combination of inheriting one parent’s small jaw and the other’s large teeth. While science does not have all the answers, research has shed some light on the topic, and there are things that parents can do to help their child develop healthy, straight teeth naturally.
When steady pressure is applied for long periods of time, it doesn’t take a lot of force to move a tooth, and the tongue is a powerful muscle. The natural placement of the tongue is in the roof of the mouth behind the upper front teeth, and the force of the tongue then expands the upper arch out to the sides of the mouth. The proper development of the upper arch enables the lower jaw to move forward, which prevents the “buck teeth” look as the jaw moves to its proper position.
Children that have allergies, enlarged tonsils and other conditions can have trouble breathing through their nose. Breathing through the mouth leaves the tongue on the floor of the mouth, where it is not doing its job of expanding the upper arch. This can cause a narrow upper arch and prevent the lower jaw from moving forward, resulting in crowding and/or the buck teeth appearance.
The same goes for children with oral habits such as thumb sucking or lip sucking that do not allow the tongue to do its job. By catching these conditions early, even as soon as 3 years of age, we can stop the process and help a child develop their healthy and natural facial and dental potential.
Moving the jaw forward allows for a better facial profile, straighter teeth and a bigger airway that can prevent future health problems such as sleep apnea. Many people believe that waiting until the child is older and then moving the teeth back with braces and headgear is the only answer. However, leaving the condition untreated in the young years can contribute to poor jaw position, TMJ dysfunction and a narrowed airway, and may result in a longer, more expensive orthodontic treatment which could relapse, resulting in the need for more orthodontics in the future.
It is important to find a dentist that can recognize these habits and conditions in a young child and understands that early intervention can be beneficial. Early treatment may include allergy testing, habit correction, myofunctional therapy and evaluating whether the tonsils are enlarged and should be removed. A dentist that values early intervention can contribute to the best health outcomes for a child.
This article was featured in the Milwaukee addition of Natural Awakenings