Top Causes of Misaligned Teeth in Children
While people tend to think of crooked teeth as an aesthetic issue, misaligned teeth can actually increase the chances of developing other oral health problems. People with crooked teeth have a harder time adequately cleaning every surface, which increases the risk of plaque buildup and tooth decay. And uneven teeth have abnormal wear patterns compared to straight teeth, increasing enamel wear on certain teeth.
While orthodontic procedures in adulthood can straighten crooked teeth, parents can take steps to help their children’s teeth grow straight. Find out the top causes of misaligned teeth in children.
Sucking on a Pacifier After Age Three
Pacifiers stimulate a baby’s sucking reflex, which is why they’re great soothing tools for many babies. But while you want your baby to feel relaxed and content, sucking on a pacifier past three years of age can cause a variety of dental problems, including crooked teeth and an overbite.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends weaning a baby off the pacifier by age three. Additionally, weaning your child off a pacifier between six and 12 months can help reduce middle ear infections, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Just like sucking on a pacifier, young children sometimes develop the habit of comforting themselves with thumb- or finger-sucking. However, finger-sucking causes some common oral health issues, including misaligned teeth.
Many parents find it more difficult to stop their child’s finger-sucking habits. Whereas you can take a pacifier away, you can’t do the same with digit-sucking. Consider using a well-designed finger guard that fits comfortably over your child’s fingers to prevent finger-sucking; offer your child incentives and rewards to kick the habit.
Another cause of misaligned teeth in children is poor nutrition. A balanced diet full of essential nutrients is critical for healthy bone development. In particular, our bodies use calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to build and maintain healthy teeth and gums. When your child eats a nutritious diet, their teeth will grow well.
Strong teeth are great for reasons other than avoiding misalignment. Calcium strengthens your tooth enamel—the part that protects the fragile inner areas of the teeth. Give your child a healthy diet to promote excellent oral health and overall wellness.