Preventing the Need for Braces

Written by: Sam Ghosh

Crooked teeth are a major problem. There are 4.8 million people wearing braces in this country, and 78 percent of those people are children. Why do children need braces? They are meant to correct an alignment issue to help provide aid in digestion with proper chewing, and they fix crooked teeth. One of the questions that many pediatric dentists hear is how can you prevent your child from needing braces. Well, all things belong to time and chance. There is no real proven way to prevent teeth from going crooked. However, there are a few things you can do that may sway fate in a favorable direction. Alternative measures can help correct problems with the teeth.

Preventing The Need For Braces

Did you know that if a child breathes through their mouth regularly that it can cause the teeth to misalign? You can help them to prevent mouth breathing so that their teeth aren’t hanging in the balance. The tongue needs to rest inside the upper teeth. As a child breathes through their lips, the tongue is pushed down and puts unnecessary pressure on the teeth. This causes the teeth to become crooked. The unusual placement of the tongue causes the jaw and upper teeth to make a triangle shape. This will, eventually, require the need for braces.

Nasal polyps and allergies are a common reason why children breathe through their mouth. If you notice this problem with your child, you can find out the physical cause behind their incorrect breathing. By finding ways to clear the nasal passages, you can correct the problem. Some bad oral habits, like thumb or finger sucking, can cause misalignments that may require braces. Discourage these habits, as well as a pacifier, sucking too.

Children, specifically infants, suck their thumbs for a feeling of security. Unfortunately, many continue into their toddler years and beyond. You shouldn’t be concerned about thumb sucking until their permanent teeth come in, which should be before they are five years of age. If they still are sucking on their thumbs, intervention may be necessary. Constant sucking can affect the child’s bone structure and correct hard, even with braces.

Try positive reinforcement. Praise your child when they are not sucking their thumbs. Small rewards can go along way. Try not to yell or scold the child as this can increase their stress and lead to further thumb sucking. Considering the cost of braces, a little preventative work is advantageous.

Correct Stress To Ease Soothing Repetitions

If a child is under any stress, this can cause problems in the body. A child is just as affected by stress as you are. Major life events, like a death in the family or a divorce, can cause great duress to a child. Children use a coping mechanism that is different than adults. They deal with their high anxiety the best way they can. They may throw tantrums, cry, and run and hide. Thumb sucking is just one way to ease their pain. However, it can ruin their teeth. Explain to them why they shouldn’t suck their thumb. It’s easier to have a few talks and comfort your child rather than do damage control later.

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