Early intervention can reduce the risk of your child needing intensive orthodontic treatment.

Did you know that you can potentially prevent your child from needing braces and other orthodontic issues? Diet, oral hygiene, and oral-related habits are all factors that influence your child’s tooth alignment. Even if your family has a history of needing braces, taking early action now will shave time off your child’s future orthodontic care.

Here are 8 ways parents can reduce their child’s risks of developing crooked teeth and bite alignment issues.

1. Book your child’s first orthodontic evaluation by their 7th birthday.

We encourage parents to schedule their child’s first visit with a pediatric orthodontist by the time they’re seven years of age. If your child is older than seven, that’s fine too! You can schedule their orthodontic evaluation right away.

If you do notice that your child’s teeth seem to be crooked or crowded, it’s always a good idea to seek out the expertise of a pediatric orthodontist, even if your child is still very young.

2. Wean your child from thumbsucking and pacifier habits by kindergarten.

Thumbsucking and pacifier habits can be endearing, but it’s important for parents to also remember that these habits should end around preschool. Prolonged thumbsucking and pacifier use quickly lead to a severe overbite.

Most kids will naturally wean themselves away from self-soothing through oral fixation, but if your child hasn’t stopped by the age of five, it’s time to take action. We can offer some great advice to parents who need help. Your child’s pediatrician can also offer expert tips.

3. Keep a regular schedule of dental checkups with a pediatric dentist.

Taking your child to their pediatric dentist for checkups and cleanings every six months can lessen the risks of orthodontic issues. During these checkups, your child’s dentist will quickly take note of any unusual changes that have occurred over the last six months. The sooner signs of trouble are spotted, the sooner a solution can be found.

Your child’s dentist may see that an emerging adult tooth is coming in crooked. The sooner you’re aware of this, the sooner your child can visit a pediatric orthodontist for a checkup.

4. Establish daily brushing and flossing routines for morning and evening.

The foundation of your child’s oral health begins right at home with a twice-daily thorough brushing and flossing routine. Start your child’s at-home dental care routine as early on as possible.

Your kid’s oral health can have either a positive or negative impact on the alignment of their teeth and overall bite. The healthier your child’s smile, the stronger their teeth will be. If your child struggles with chronic tooth decay, it may eventually lead to weakened teeth or even the need for extracting adult teeth. Unhealthy teeth and gaps from missing teeth can cause your child’s bite alignment to shift abnormally.

5. Provide a nutritious diet with plenty of whole, natural foods.

It’s believed that orthodontic issues could be the unfortunate side effect of modern diets. To put it simply, diets with easy-to-eat, processed foods that are soft and require little chewing can result in bite alignment trouble. If your child eats a lot of soft foods, their jaw may not develop well, resulting in their adult teeth coming in crooked or becoming crooked over time.

Evaluate your child’s diet and see how you might be able to make some smile-friendly changes. Basing main meals around whole, natural foods and limiting processed foods is a great way to start!

6. Get help if your child often mouth breathes during the day or at night.

Mouth breathing isn’t uncommon, but it can spell trouble if your child develops a habit of doing it. Mouth breathing can cause all sorts of issues for kids, from impairing their ability to speak to affecting their focus at school. As far as oral health goes, mouth breathing can cause dry mouth, which drastically increases your child’s risk of tooth decay and can weaken their jaw structure.

Not only can mouth breathing cause orthodontic issues for your child, but it can also complicate future orthodontic treatment if the habit continues at that time.

7. Follow through with early orthodontic treatment recommendations.

The average age for braces is between 12 and 14 years of age, but this can vary greatly. In some cases, your child’s orthodontist may recommend early treatment, sometimes as early as eight years of age.

Every orthodontic treatment case has a unique window of opportunity to yield the best results possible. By starting treatment during this time, your child’s orthodontist will be able to much more effectively guide their jaw growth, realign teeth, and prevent future misalignment, as well as achieve results that would not have been possible if treatment was delayed.

8. Encourage your child to sleep on their back and practice proper posture.

Two more habits that will have a positive impact on your child’s bite alignment is sleeping position and posture. Stomach sleeping is natural for some kids, but it can gradually cause their teeth and jaw position to shift due to the hours of constant pressure. Some kids may even develop TMD from this.

Posture can also have an impact, specifically posture while sitting. Many kids may sit hunched over at their desks, resting their chin or jaw on their hands. Though it may seem harmless, this can also cause a similar effect to stomach sleeping.

Learn more about your child’s smile by booking an appointment at Pediatric Dental Specialists.

The Pediatric Dental Specialists team can provide valuable insight into your child’s current smile status as well as predict how their smile will develop as they age.

By choosing us as your child’s dental home, our pediatric dentists and pediatric orthodontists will keep a close eye on your child’s growing smile through routine checkups and cleanings, preventive and restorative care, and orthodontic evaluations and treatment.

You can schedule an appointment for your child today by calling our office or filling out this quick online form.

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