About Kids’ Teeth

You may have heard the word malocclusion used to describe a variety of tooth and jaw problems. It simply means “teeth and jaws that don’t fit together properly.” Teeth could be irregularly spaced, crowded, or out of alignment. In children, bad habits like fingernail biting, tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, or mouth breathing can be the cause. Sometimes malocclusion is inherited – you can get a small jaw from one parent and a large jaw from the other, and that can spell trouble all around.

Teeth and jaws that don’t line up in a good biting position can set the stage for tooth decay and gum disease. Poorly arranged teeth can trap food particles and allow plaque and tartar to build up. Chewing can be difficult and that can affect diet and digestion. Malocclusion can even cause speech problems. In infants, poorly fitting baby teeth won’t give permanent teeth room to grow in straight.

Orthodontists deal with straightening teeth and altering bone growth. They carefully assess each case with radiographs, and use special tools such as bands, wires, elastics, and appliances to guide teeth into their proper positions. Even in the very young, early orthodontics can fix alignment problems before they affect the permanent teeth. That can save a lot of cost and trouble down the road. Thanks to orthodontics, there’s no reason we can’t put crooked teeth on the straight and narrow.