How to Prevent your Child from Developing Crooked Teeth

prevent child from developing crooked teethSanta Cruz, Scotts Valley CA

Many kids develop misaligned or crooked teeth, and later end up in braces or other forms of orthodontics to straighten their teeth. It seems like most adolescents and teens end up in braces, but what if we told you this could be prevented? Myofunctional therapists in Scotts Valley at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry want you to know what causes teeth to develop crooked, and what can be done early on to prevent the need for orthodontics or to shorten your child’s orthodontic treatment.

What causes crooked teeth?

Crooked teeth often are caused by poor oral habits such as thumb sucking, prolonged use of the bottle, mouth breathing, tongue or lip-ties, tongue thrust or improper swallowing patterns. Often, these poor oral habits are ignored, which inevitably leads to crooked teeth that later are corrected with orthodontics. But, stop and think about what we just said for a minute. The effects of the habit are corrected, but not the habit. In other words, correcting the effects and ignoring the source of the problem only leads to the need for retreatment. This often can be why you see adults going through orthodontic treatment even though they had braces as a kid. This is where we come into the picture. Myofunctional therapy can help curb these poor oral habits early on in life, preventing the need for orthodontic treatment later on or at least lessening the time your child spends in braces or the possibility of retreatment later in life.

What is myofunctional therapy?

The goal of myofunctional therapy aims to retrain the way the oral muscles to function properly when swallowing, speaking, and at rest. Through a series of exercises, myofunctional therapy retrains the tongue, and oral muscles to rest and function properly. It is a noninvasive method of treatment that can have a profound impact on your child’s orofacial development, which simply means their face shape, jaws and teeth will develop in a more appealing appearance, teeth can develop in a straighter manner, and their airway can develop to the appropriate size.

Why does oral posture matter?

The natural design for our mouths is to have the lips closed, teeth together, and tongue resting against the roof of the mouth when at rest. If a child exhibits what we call open mouth posture, then their tongue is instead resting low in the mouth. Without this constant, yet gentle force against the upper dental arch, the palate begins to narrow significantly, causing the teeth to become crooked. This process can take place slowly over time as the child ages.

Fast forward to about 12 years of age, and the child now needs orthodontic intervention to straighten their teeth. Since the upper dental arch is quite narrow, there isn’t enough room in the mouth to straighten his or her existing teeth, and therefore, orthodontists often recommend extracting certain teeth to make room to straighten the ones remaining. This approach has been used in orthodontics for decades, but thanks to Dr. John Mew, we now know that we don’t need to extract teeth for orthodontic purposes! There is a way to prevent your child from facing this scenario, and it begins early!

How does myofunctional therapy work?

Myofunctional therapy can benefit patients of all ages, but for the purpose of creating a wider dental arch, it works best when implemented at a young age. This is just one of the reasons why routine dental checkups are essential even for young children. We can identify whether your child has a poor oral habit, and work with you, and your child, using myofunctional therapy exercises to retrain how they hold their mouth closed, how they swallow, and how they breathe. Starting myofunctional therapy early on, if needed, can really be a pivotal point in your child’s development.

Does my child need myofunctional therapy?

You may be wondering whether your child could benefit from myofunctional therapy or if it is too late to seek treatment. The best way to know for sure is to schedule a consultation with a certified myofunctional therapy in Scotts Valley. However, it is a good idea to be on the look for the following indicators that may imply that your child has a poor oral posture.

These habits include:

  • Prolonged use of pacifier, bottle, or thumb sucking past one year of age
  • Open mouth posture when breathing
  • Snoring at night
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Elongated facial structure
  • Recessed chin with a severe overbite
  • Behavioral problems or symptoms that mimic ADHD/ADD
  • Crooked teeth, specifically an overbite or front teeth do not touch

While these are not all of the symptoms associated with poor oral habits, they are some of the most common ones that we see. It is best to have your child receive an evaluation because a simple check could really define their development, their looks, and their health!

To learn more about myofunctional therapy, or to schedule your child for a consultation, please contact Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry by calling (831) 438-4411. We welcome patients from Los Gatos, Scotts Valley, and Santa Cruz.