Crooked teeth are a common concern among parents with young children, and it’s one of the most common reasons they take their kids to the dentist.
In fact, three out of four children develop crowded, twisted or overlapping teeth. This can lead to other problems in the long run, so healthy oral development is dependent on treating the underlying cause.
Tooth Decay From Bottles
Also referred to as nursing bottle syndrome, tooth decay can occur when infants and toddlers frequently drink liquid carbohydrates.
While parents generally know that fruit juices contain sugars, they don’t realize that formula, regular milk and breast milk also contain these sugars.
Over time, tooth decay can develop and cause dental damage, which can lead to crooked or crowded oral health because the permanent structures can’t be guided into the proper position.
Early Tooth Loss
The premature loss of a tooth may also occur because of decay, but other causes include lack of space and injury.
Three out of four children develop crowded, twisted or overlapping teeth. This can lead to other problems in the long run, so healthy oral development is dependent on treating the underlying cause.
The surrounding teeth could shift or tip into the empty space if the permanent tooth is not ready to come up.
If there isn’t enough room when it does emerge, it’s likely to be crooked.
It’s generally healthy and normal for infants to suck on pacifiers, thumbs, fingers and toys.
However, children who continue this habit beyond 5 years of age can develop poor tooth alignment because it pushes their incisors and premolars out of place.
It can also cause a malformation in the roof of the mouth and misalignment in the lower and upper jaws.
Lip Sucking and Tongue Thrusting
Like thumb sucking, lip sucking and tongue thrusting exert pressure on the incisors and premolars, pushing them out of a functional biting relationship.
Lip sucking involves holding the lower lip under the upper incisors, and tongue thrusting involves swallowing by thrusting the top of the tongue toward the lips.
The misalignment can cause an overbite or open-bite and interfere with speech development.
Breathing Through the Mouth
Surprising to most parents is that their children’s oral health suffers when they breath with their mouth open.
This can actually affect how their faces are shaped, including dental alignment. The resting position of the tongue and posture of the lips is what pushes their incisors and premolars out of place.
This can even be a problem for orthodontic treatment if the habit persists after braces are removed.
Children whose parents have crooked smiles are more likely to have the same alignment issues because it’s hereditary.
Some people are born with small mouths that lead to overlapping and crowding because there isn’t enough room for growth.
Poorly aligned jaws that prevent proper dental development might also run in the family.
Suffering an injury to the face, especially the mouth and jaw, can lead to crowded, twisted or overlapping smiles when left untreated.
Another cause is improperly fitted dental restorations such as cavity filling and crowns. Gingivitis is a gum disease that also affects overall health, and tumours are an even rarer cause.
Although orthodontics such as braces correct the misalignment of teeth, it’s important to encourage children to break habits such as thumb sucking and mouth breathing so that the correction doesn’t revert after the braces are removed.