As a parent in Lakewood, we know you love to see your child’s smile! Every smile is as unique as the child who wears it, with its own quirks and charm. However, when oral issues such as crowded teeth or misalignments are left untreated, they can interfere with a child’s ability to eat, sleep, speak, and function well at home or school. Orthodontic treatment can solve many of the dental problems children experience, but you may wonder what causes them in the first place. Recognizing bad habits that affect your child’s teeth is the first step to giving them a lifetime of smiles!
There are many factors that contribute to a child’s oral health, but some of the most common causes of misaligned teeth are bad habits like thumb sucking, extended bottle use, and other similar issues. Harmful habits like these are common among babies, toddlers, and young children, but adults can struggle with many of them as well!
These bad habits can cause cosmetic and structural damage to the teeth and jaws, so it’s important to address them as early as possible! This can be as simple as patient education and minor behavior modification, but in some cases, dental and orthodontic work may be necessary as well.
Here at Brodsky Orthodontics, our goal is to help your child achieve a healthy smile that will last a lifetime. Let’s take a closer look at recognizing bad habits that affect your child’s teeth and how you can address them with our help! Keep reading below to learn more.
Get a head start with early orthodontic evaluations
Developing healthy oral habits with your children has a multitude of benefits and stopping bad habits is just as important! This is one reason the American Association of Orthodontists and Dr. Brodsky recommend all children see an orthodontist for the first time around age seven. Some parents are surprised by this suggestion since most kids that age still have developing mouths and a large number of baby teeth left. However, at this age, the back bite is already established, which means Dr. Brodsky can evaluate the side-to-side and front-to-back tooth relationships and more accurately assess the child’s bite.
It’s important to note that an orthodontic evaluation doesn’t always lead to orthodontic treatment. Dr. Brodsky typically recommends immediate orthodontic treatment for just a small number of the younger patients we see. However, early evaluations are still important! These visits allow us to monitor your child’s oral development as they grow and catch any issues that may cause problems, either now or in the future. When given the chance to begin treatment at the most opportune time, our team can help your child’s smile grow correctly. This gives them the best chance for a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Thumb and finger sucking
Thumb and finger sucking are probably the most common oral habits we see in young children throughout Lakewood. While most kids tend to outgrow this by the time they start school, it can lead to oral issues if it persists. Some of these include:
- open bite of the front teeth
- flared upper incisors
- tipping of the lower incisors
- misalignment of the future permanent teeth
- deformities of the roof of the mouth
These problems can vary in intensity, depending on the severity of your child’s habit and the position of the thumb or finger in the mouth. If left untreated for too long, your child’s teeth may suffer, both cosmetically and below the surface of their smile.
While not as common as thumb or finger sucking, lip sucking can also be an issue for some children. This commonly results in chapped or inflamed lips, but a more serious habit can cause the upper front teeth to flare out or the lower front teeth to tilt towards the tongue. Over a long enough time, these teeth may lose the ability to touch when the mouth is closed.
Anyone who’s ever experienced a child grinding their teeth at night will confirm how irritating all that crunching and squeaking can be! But teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a pretty common habit, especially in children and pre-teens. Research shows that most children eventually outgrow grinding their teeth, however, it can still cause some problems while it persists.
One example of this is how the grinding action can wear down the enamel of your child’s teeth and disrupt their sleep. Some clinical studies have even demonstrated a possible link between bruxism and anxiety, stress, and depression in those who suffer from it.
Children who experience prolonged teeth grinding may also suffer from headaches, earaches, and jaw pain. There are several possible causes for this bad habit, but teeth grinding is particularly common in children dealing with bite and alignment issues in their upper or lower jaw. Correcting these malocclusions with orthodontic treatment can help!
Chewing on objects
Children and adults alike can develop the bad habit of chewing on objects like ice, pens, and pencils, or fingernails. Many of these habits start subconsciously due to boredom or distraction, but they can chip away at the enamel, crack the teeth, and irritate the soft tissue inside a tooth.
In addition to the risk of cracking and chipping your teeth, nail-biting gives the bacteria that thrive under your fingernails an easy access point into your mouth. The COVID-19 pandemic serves as an additional daily reminder to keep our hands away from our face and mouth to help prevent infection.
If your child is prone to chewing on things or biting their nails, try using sugarless gum to break the habit! Younger children may respond well to a healthy snack with a satisfying crunch, like carrots, celery, or apple slices. These foods are great for teeth and oral health, too!
Help your child achieve a healthier smile with Brodsky Orthodontics
Recognizing bad habits that affect your child’s teeth is the first step to help to break them! Dr. Brodsky and his team of orthodontic experts want to help you along the way. When you schedule your child’s free initial consultation at our Lakewood office, we’ll create a treatment plan completely customized to their unique needs. We can even help determine the best methods for breaking harmful oral habits!
If you’re ready to take the first step in giving your child a lifetime of smiles, contact our team today and schedule your free consultation. We can’t wait to meet your family!