How you raise your child today is far different from how your parents and grandparents raised you years ago. There have been plenty of changes over time – from breastfeeding to the type of first food you introduce to your kids.
For instance, the presence of today’s rubber nipples, pacifiers, juices without fruits, and gummies has significantly contributed to your child’s unique mouth and jaw development.
In addition to that, many parents today accept processed food and snacks as sources of nutrition for their babies. Unfortunately, these nutritional replacements can greatly contribute to the development of various health conditions later in life. As such, many children today suffer from teeth misalignments that require orthodontic solutions, like braces.
Luckily, dental professionals and orthodontic specialists can recommend good ways to avoid the development of crooked teeth in children. Here are tips that can help prevent your child from needing braces later on.
1. Stop pacifier use at the age of six months
An American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics study found that there is a significant link between pacifier use and teeth misalignment. The use of a pacifier per se is not bad for your babies, but how long they use it matters a lot. In fact, not using a pacifier can increase the chance of misaligned teeth.
The study suggests the age of six months as an excellent time to stop the use of pacifiers – beyond that, it can already have a negative effect on oral development.
2. Breastfeed your child until 12-24 months
The same study has discovered that breastfeeding for at least 12 months can decrease your child’s risk of suffering from dental misalignment. How your kids move their tongues while sucking can help their mouth to fully develop. Furthermore, the essential nutrients that the breast milk contains are more beneficial.
3. Introduce chewy foods as early as possible
If your baby starts eating solid food, you must include foods that need a reasonable amount of chewing. These include steamed vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, bananas, and avocados. This will significantly help with proper jaw development.
4. Choose nutrient-dense foods
Good nutrition is crucial for good oral health. Stick only to nutrient-dense foods and avoid the processed ones as they can contain grains and sugar. If it seems impossible to feed your child fruits and vegetables because they don’t like the appearance and taste, make the food more appealing and tasty. Also, let them help you prepare their meals so they can take pride and be more motivated to eat what they made.
5. Integrate myofunctional training at home
Myofunctional training includes exercises that will help your child’s teeth and jaw become healthy. It aims to develop tongue posture, establish nasal breathing, improve speech and sleep, and help with chewing, eating and breastfeeding. Breathing exercises and gum chewing exercises are also part of this training.
6. Visit a family dentist early
By visiting a family dentist at an early age, complications that may arise later on will be predicted and treated early. Remember that one excellent way to prevent your little one from getting braces is to make sure that their mouth is healthy rom the get-go.
Once you notice that your child’s baby teeth are falling out, you must start scheduling regular dental visits. This way, your child’s oral progress will be monitored.
If, for instance, the dentist predicts that your kid’s adult teeth will need more room to grow, they might recommend removing the affected baby teeth early so the permanent teeth won’t become crowded or even break through the gum line where they should not. By taking preventative dental measures, braces will definitely be avoided in the future.
Orthodontic problems are faster and easier to treat if they are dealt with during the development years. So make sure to bring your child to your family dentist as soon as their first baby tooth erupts and schedule regular dental visits after.
Indeed, preventing the need for braces is possible if you know what to do. Implement these six dental care tips now to keep your child’s teeth and jaw healthy and prevent orthodontic treatments later on.
Dr. Michael Letham is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual’s requirements, Mike’s focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.
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