Posted February 14, 2014
Recognizing National Children’s Dental Health Month
Children’s baby teeth lay the foundation for their adult teeth. As permanent teeth emerge, crooked teeth and bite problems may develop. As children become active in physical and sports activities, many experience dental emergencies due to mouth injuries. It’s important for parents and caregivers to protect children from experiencing lifelong dental problems caused by misaligned teeth, called malocclusion, or injuries to the mouth.
Jaw and bite problems
Malocclusion, or misalignment of teeth, is a condition in which the teeth are crowded, crooked or not aligned, or the jaws don’t meet properly. This may become particularly noticeable between ages 6 and 12, when a child’s permanent teeth are developing. If not treated early, this condition (also known as bad bite) can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean where teeth are crooked or crowded, increasing the risk for cavities and gum disease.
Bad bite also can:
- affect proper jaw development
- put protruding teeth at risk for chips and fractures
- affect eating and speaking
- make some teeth more likely to wear abnormally, or faster than those that are properly aligned
Scheduling your child for regular dental checkups and cleanings will assist a dental professional in detecting bite problems at an early stage. Treatment solutions may include seeing an orthodontist who will create a plan to improve your child’s smile, such as wearing braces or a removable retainer.
Mouth guards can help protect children participating in physical, or sports, activities from experiencing a dental emergency. They should be worn whenever children participate in sports and recreational activities. Mouth guards cushion blows that could otherwise cause broken teeth, injuries to the lips and face, and even jaw fractures. Mouth guards are available at many retail stores, or may be custom-made by a dentist. To learn more about mouth guards, read “Guard Your Mouth to Prevent Injuries.”