Did you know that the habits that promote good orthodontic health begin in infancy? At Alliston Orthodontics & Oral Surgery, we recommend that children have their first orthodontic assessment by age 7. However, the way a child brushes their teeth, their thumb sucking habits, and their jaw development can all impact the amount of orthodontic intervention that may be needed as they grow. Our team can help explain how these factors can affect your child’s orthodontic health.
What is early orthodontic intervention?
At Alliston Orthodontics & Oral Surgery, we believe that the habits that lead to good orthodontic health start in infancy. For example, proper tooth brushing and avoiding prolonged thumbsucking can help prevent tooth misalignment and promote proper jaw development. These early habits can greatly influence how much orthodontic intervention will be needed as a child grows.
By starting orthodontic treatment early, we can address problems before they become more severe and potentially save your child from needing tooth extractions, lengthy treatment, and even oral surgery in the future. Our team is dedicated to guiding the development of your child’s jaw and palate to achieve the best possible results. Working closely with dentists, family doctors, and other health professionals, we can ensure your child’s orthodontic health is on the right track from the start.
How do early habits influence orthodontic health?
Establishing a strong foundation for orthodontic health begins in infancy, and it is crucial to start practicing good oral hygiene habits and seeking preventive care from dental health professionals early on. At Alliston Orthodontics & Oral Surgery, we recommend that parents follow these three steps to support their child’s orthodontic health as they grow:
Practice diligence with early tooth brushing and dental visits.
The first teeth that come in, also known as deciduous teeth or baby teeth, play an essential role in a child’s facial development and help with speaking, biting, and chewing. They also help hold space for permanent teeth that will eventually come in. It’s important to remember to clean a baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth after meals to prevent decay, even in baby teeth. Once a child is around one year old or when their first tooth emerges, it’s time for them to start visiting the dentist regularly. To support good oral health, it’s also important to maintain a healthy diet and avoid acidic or sugary liquids, such as fruit juices and soda, especially before bedtime.
Wean toddlers from thumbsucking and pacifier use.
As infants, sucking their thumb or using a pacifier is a common way for children to self-soothe as they explore their new surroundings. However, it is important to help children break the habit by the time they turn 3 years old, as prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can affect jaw formation, leading to the development of an overbite or crossbite. It can also impact the palate, which can negatively impact swallowing, chewing, and speaking. In addition, habitual thumb sucking can cause the front teeth to shift, especially the top front teeth, which may stick out and the bottom teeth to tip inward towards the tongue, resulting in an open bite and space between the teeth.
Allow babies to practice eating solid foods as early as 6 months.
The way a child chews and the types of food they eat can significantly impact the development of their jaw and facial structure. To encourage proper jaw growth and strengthen jaw muscles, it is important for babies to progress from soft foods to more challenging foods that require chewing. The age at which a baby can start experimenting with solid foods may vary based on their individual health and circumstances, but generally, it is recommended to introduce solid foods around six months old.
During infancy and early childhood, it is important for parents to visit dental and medical professionals regularly to ensure proper development and prevent future orthodontic issues. By discussing the importance of good oral hygiene and healthy eating habits with parents, you can help them “future proof” their child’s dental health and avoid potential orthodontic problems as they grow. It is also important to address habits such as thumb sucking, as it can impact jaw formation and cause an overbite or crossbite, as well as interfere with the palate and affect swallowing, chewing, and speaking.
Do you see patients younger than age 7?
At Alliston Orthodontics & Oral Surgery, we believe that good orthodontic health starts in infancy. For some young patients, it may be beneficial to have an orthodontist as part of their dental healthcare team. We are able to see patients as young as age 7 to address habits such as mouth breathing or thumbsucking that may lead to orthodontic issues in the future. If you are concerned about your child’s habits or development, we encourage you to come in for a consultation and assessment. By addressing these issues early, we can help prevent problems from becoming worse and guide development in a positive direction.