A basic (and some would say endless) part of parenthood is helping your child form good habits as well as break bad ones. Don’t put your elbows on the table. Wait until someone is finished to start talking. Put your phone/tablet down when I’m speaking to you…the list goes on and on. However, a few habits can actually throw off the alignment of your child’s teeth if they persist for too long, so breaking them as soon as possible is important. Here are the top 3 habits that could make your child’s teeth crooked.
1. Thumb & Finger Sucking
A baby sucking their thumb is one of the cutest things in the world, and it’s a perfectly normal and healthy behavior. However, once a child reaches the age of 3 or 4, it needs to go away. The constant pressure inside the mouth from this action can force the front teeth to move too far forward, which cannot only make them crooked, but also throw off the alignment of the entire bite. It can even slightly reshape how their jaw grows! Most children grow out of thumb/finger sucking on their own, but if your little one is persistent, then you should definitely help them stop. For tips, just ask a children’s orthodontist, as they have helped countless kids and parents through this process to make it as smooth as possible.
2. Nail Biting
Often the result of anxiety or boredom, nail-biting can lead to all sorts of problems for your child’s teeth. Not only does it require them to place their jaw at an odd angle, which can create soreness, but it can also lead to chipped and broken teeth. Plus, this is also an easy way to introduce bacteria into the mouth that can cause infections. These can all potentially damage the teeth and hamper their growth, creating avoidable misalignments in the future.
3. Missing Dental Checkups
Your child brushes and flosses every day, and you’re very careful about limiting their sugar intake. So, their teeth are safe, right? While these are both great practices, they can’t 100% prevent their teeth from coming in crooked. It can just happen naturally, and in order to address this kind of problem before it’s too late, the best thing you can do is bring your child in for dental checkups every 6 months.
Your child’s dentist will take X-rays to see how their adult teeth are developing, and if they spot a potential issue, or the early signs of one, they can refer you to an orthodontist who can take care of it right away. This may involve your child undergoing early-age orthodontics, which can help them stop sucking their thumb/finger and guide their oral development to prevent severe crookedness down the line.
Parenting is complicated, and keeping track of everything that your child should and shouldn’t be doing on a daily basis requires a lot of mental bandwidth. Thankfully, when it comes to their smile, you’re far from alone. By regularly taking them to visit their dentist and seeing an orthodontist when recommended, you can enjoy peace of mind that their smile and oral health are on the right track, giving you one less thing to worry about.
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is a board-certified, award-winning orthodontist based in the Columbus area. He’s also the proud father of 3 young boys, so he knows how tough it can be keeping up with a child’s various habits! If you have questions about your little one’s teeth, he’s always happy to answer them. And, if you think your child might need braces, you can get all the information you need at a FREE in-person consultation, which you can schedule by clicking here.