Having wonky teeth is something many of us had to face growing up, along with the effects it can have on your self-esteem. Most of us probably don’t want our children to have to go through the same thing, and while there are now some great options available to straighten our smiles, there are also some things we can do to help keep our kids teeth healthier, stronger and straighter.
ONE: Ditch the dummy, kick the thumb-sucking habit
While thumb-sucking is a natural reflex for many children, prolonged sucking habits put undesirable pressures on developing teeth and jaws. In many cases this can cause deformation of the jaws and affect the alignment of the teeth.
We know that this is more likely to occur if these habits continue beyond the age of 5 years, when the adult teeth start to come in to the mouth. So to allow the jaw to grow and develop normally without the abnormal forces caused by sucking habits, they must be stopped!
Some great tips to kick the habit include:
- Praise your child for not sucking their thumb/dummy/pen
- Often these habits are a way for the child to comfort themselves when feeling insecure or anxious, it can be helpful to focus on the reason why the child may be feeling like this and provide comfort in another way
- If the child is older, involve them in choosing their method of stopping the habit
- The dentist can offer encouragement to stop the habit and explain what can happen if they don’t stop
- If all this fails, a band-aid on the offending digit, a sock on the hand at night or a bitter nail paint can act as a reminder to stop thumb sucking
TWO: Avoid Early Visits from the Tooth Fairy
Baby teeth are important too! Teeth are lost in a particular order for a reason. Losing a baby tooth before it is due to come out naturally (due to tooth decay, infection or accidents) can cause the surrounding teeth to tip and move into a place where they don’t belong. This can result in problems with the eruption of the adult teeth later on, or can cause teeth to become crooked because of the loss of space that would normally be maintained by the baby tooth.
If this happens, your dentist can help, as in some situations it is possible to make an appliance to hold the space for the adult tooth until it erupts.
THREE: Get In To Good Hygiene Habits
Following on from tip number two, getting into good habits to keep the teeth and gums healthy is the best way to prevent early tooth fairy visits.
Kids need help with brushing, especially at night time, until they are able to do it themselves properly. This is often around the age of 7-8 years. Using a toothpaste containing fluoride is another important way of strengthening the teeth against decay.
Children’s teeth need to be flossed just as much as grown up teeth do. A floss aid with a long handle can make this a much easier job and ideally should be performed once a day.
Regular visits to the dentist are not only important to detect any problems early, but also so that preventive treatments such as fluoride application or fissure sealants can be performed when needed.
Sometimes, crooked teeth is just down to the genes. Despite yours and your dentist’s best efforts, if Mum or Dad had crooked teeth there is a chance your child will too. However, it is even more important in these situations to focus on the first three points, as failing to do so can make a bad crooked tooth situation into a worse one!
FIVE: Catch It Early
At Pelago Dental, every time your child visits us for their preventive maintenance appointment we conduct a thorough examination and check your child’s bite and orthodontic development. This means, if there is a problem developing, we can catch it early and work together (with Karratha’s visiting specialist Orthodontist where needed) to actively intervene and in some cases, prevent more extensive treatment being needed later, or ensure treatment starts at the right time during development to have the best outcome.