Many parents come to my NYC pediatric dental practice wondering if their child needs braces, also known as orthodontic care. This is often based on the assumption that, if the parents had orthodontia, the child will also need this. Is this true?
While children do inherit their parents’ bone structure, along with many other characteristics, tooth alignment is part genetics and part dental and general health.
How Dental Health Impacts The Need for Orthodontic Treatment
Baby teeth are incredibly important; much more important than many parents believe, as a matter of fact. Because our children eventually lose their baby teeth, it’s easy to think that these teeth need less care than permanent teeth. In reality, any damage to baby teeth, such as trauma or untreated cavities, can negatively affect your child.
- Dental alignment . Missing teeth cause incoming permanent teeth to use extra space, making nearby teeth more crowded. This can lead to a need for orthodontia. .
- Speech difficulties. Our children’s speech development is predicated on a full mouth of baby teeth for accurate speech. Missing teeth can result in lisps and other speech disorders that require treatment.
- Missing baby teeth. Some children are missing baby teeth for unknown reasons. They just never appeared. This, just like teeth that were lost to trauma or decay, can result in speech problems and spacing problems with adult teeth.
- Chewing problems . Decayed and/or missing teeth, whether baby teeth or permanent teeth, can cause problems with chewing. This can lead to overdevelopment of the jaw bones on the unaffected side of the mouth, as well as problems extracting nutrition from foods.
- Prematurity . Premature babies are known to have delayed dental development. If the infant had prolonged intubation (breathing tube) and nutritional issues, dental development may be further damaged, leading to a need for later orthodontic treatment.
- Thumbsucking and tongue thrusting quite often contribute to flared teeth, as the child is constantly applying pressure to the teeth, pushing them outward.
- Asthma, allergies, and/or frequent colds that result in mouth breathing can also cause incorrect jaw development, leading to tooth crowding.
If you have concerns about any of the above issues, please talk to me at your child’s next 6-month dental appointment! No question is too big or too small to ask! I’m here to help your child develop a beautiful, healthy smile for life!