When patients come to our office for their first orthodontic assessment, we’re often asked, “How did my teeth get crooked to begin with?” Teeth erupt crookedly for a number of reasons, ranging from genetics to mouth deformities and serious oral diseases.
When extra teeth or abnormally large teeth create a malocclusion (crookedness or misplacement), the culprit is usually genetic in nature. Other inherited traits involve jaws that are too small to accommodate a full set of teeth, and misaligned jaws that did not form properly in vitro.
Can crooked teeth be prevented?
In most cases, underbites, overbites, and crooked teeth are genetic and can’t be avoided. Orthodontic treatment with braces will be necessary to correct the condition once your child is old enough to wear them. However, certain early childhood behaviours that may also contribute to the development of crooked teeth can be avoided. These include:
- Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting
- Losing baby teeth to decay before permanent teeth have naturally pushed them out of their sockets.
- Allowing pacifier use to continue after front teeth have erupted
Permanent teeth below baby teeth are directly affected by the health of the baby teeth. If baby teeth are prematurely lost due to decay or trauma, permanent teeth will shift when they start moving upward.
Baby teeth are like anchors for permanent teeth; they help guide them when they erupt through the gums. In addition, taking excellent care of baby teeth is vital to having healthy permanent teeth free of discoloration or decay.
Harmful oral bacteria can spread into the gums and reach down to permanent teeth that are still buried in the gums. Once attached to a tooth’s enamel, bacteria will begin eroding the tooth even before it has a chance to take its first bite!
When to Start Orthodontic Treatment for Crooked Teeth
The American Association of Orthodontists suggests, as do we, that parents take their child to an orthodontist around age seven to rule out potential issues with permanent teeth eruption. If problems are discovered, it is not unusual to begin orthodontic treatment at that age.
In fact, specific conditions such as crowding and gaps between teeth are easier to correct at an early age. Early treatment also benefits from the growth process of the jaw, which helps move teeth to normal positions.
If you have questions about your child’s teeth, simply schedule an appointment! We’re here to make sure your child grows up with a beautiful, straight, and most importantly, healthy smile.