6 Early signs your child is on track for braces, and how to avoid them.
As parents, we always want to do the right thing for our kids. We want them to be healthy and happy, but above all that, we want them to be themselves.
For many of us though, the early teenage years of our kids’ lives are unbelievably complex. Just supporting our kids through the transition from childhood to adulthood can be a struggle, but adding the social pressure put on teenagers to look and feel as perfect as a world seen through the eyes of social media, it becomes even more difficult. Helping our kids to look and feel comfortable in their own skin is a challenge for us as parents, but one that is worth overcoming.
One of the most common “fixes” to help teenagers with their self-esteem is to straighten their teeth with braces. Unfortunately, having braces can put its own set of social pressures on your child.
However, you can help your child on the path to naturally straight teeth and avoid their need for braces by looking out for some early tell-tale signs. By being aware of and recognising these warning signs early on, you can take action and overcome your kid’s potential need for braces down the road.
1. Struggling to breastfeed
One sign that may indicate something is not as it should be can occur as early as the first few days of life when a baby struggles to latch on when breastfeeding. While there are other contributing factors, struggling to latch on can be a very early indicator that your child may need support to ensure that their jawline and mouth are developing correctly and on the right track.
2. Thumb sucking
While many kids find comfort in sucking their thumb or fingers, it is a habit that should be discouraged or ceased as early as possible as this can alter the growth trajectory of teeth and the jaw. Although it can be difficult to discourage this habit early on, spending the time now will pay dividends further down the line.
3. Regular ear nose and throat infections
Sometimes young children have repeated infections in their ears or throat. If your child needs grommets, has regular sore throats, tonsil issues, or difficulty breathing through their nose, a visit to the Dentists would be a good bet. The knock-on effects of these infections, such as altered breathing or regular difficulty swallowing, can impact the development of your child’s mouth.
No child should snore, unless they have a head cold, as this is a strong indicator that there is an airway blockage. When they are asleep, check that they have their lips together with no teeth visible and are breathing through their nose. If they are sleeping with their mouth is open, it could indicate that there is a blockage in their airways. Mouth-breathing is not the way that nature intends for us to breathe. It changes the position of your child’s tongue relative to the rest of their mouth which can significantly alter the growth and alignment of their mouth over time and lead to a misshapen jaw.
Find out more about the impact of Mouth Breathing in this article.
5. Sleeping deeply, but always tired
Children that have airway difficulties often sleep very soundly and are very difficult to wake. They often seem to sleep for a long time but are still tired during the day. This can be a result of mouth-breathing while they sleep.
Common physical signs can be prominent front teeth and the appearance of a small chin, which are often caused due to the misalignment of the lower jaw.
Sometimes behavioural changes and difficulties with learning and concentrating can also be an indication that your child is mouth-breathing. They could also appear to have dark rings around their eyes and a blue tinge to the roof of their mouth, since mouth-breathing prevents the blood from being as fully oxygenated as it should be, often also causing dry lips as a result.
6. Teeth grinding at night
Many kids grind their teeth at night which can often be tied to the development of their airways and jaw. Children with large tonsils are often particularly prone to very loud grinding because they tend to push their chin forward to open the airway and allow air past their enlarged tonsils.
While your child’s teeth can be straightened at any age using traditional braces or Invisalign, once they are fully grown it is very difficult to affect their facial bone structure and jaw shape without surgical intervention.
The good news is that by being aware of some of these early indicators you can get a step ahead. By taking early and, often, simple actions you can help keep your child on the path to a lifetime of confidence and good oral health.