When it comes to your child's teeth, you may be concerned about their alignment. Braces are sometimes necessary due to the way that your child's teeth naturally come in, but they can also be required because of dental alignment changes that are caused by negative habits or practices. Here are a few negative practices in which your child may be engaging that could eventually cause crooked teeth.
Using the Thumb as a Soothing Mechanism
A child may regularly suck his or her thumb for the calming effect that the habit incites. At times of emotional stress or uncertainty, the thumb-sucking may be exacerbated.
The sucking may seem harmless, but the force presses the thumb firmly against the roof of the child's mouth. The resulting pressure can cause the front teeth to be pushed forward and outward, gradually positioning the teeth into a bucked, gapped formation. Once the teeth grow into a misaligned position, they will not re-align on their own. Instead, they will require an orthodontic adjustment.
The positioning of the primary teeth offers an indication of the final placement of the permanent teeth that will grow in. Thus, the thumb-sucking affects more than your child's baby teeth. To help minimize the damage from thumb-sucking, it is best to help the child stop the habit before lasting issues occur.
You can assist the child by teaching him or her other coping mechanisms, such as verbalizing concerns or drawing. In addition, you can provide the child with healthier forms of oral stimulation, such as chewing xylitol-sweetened gum. Also, consider positively reinforcing the preferred behavior by praising the little one every time you notice that he or she is not engaging in thumb-sucking.
Playing Sports Without a Mouth Guard
When your child plays a contact sport, such as basketball, football, or hockey, it is important for the youngster to use a mouth guard. A blow to the mouth could inadvertently force properly aligned teeth out of position. Thus, a minor sporting accident can sometimes necessitate braces.
An effective mouth guard should fit the child's mouth properly. In addition, it should be sufficiently shock-absorbent to prevent damage to the underlying teeth. Without protection, even if a tooth is not knocked from the mouth during play, it can still be loosened or re-positioned.
For more things you can do to prevent your child's teeth from becoming misaligned, schedule an appointment with a family dentist in your local area, such as Tore D Steinberg DDS PC.