As you teach your child about responsible dental hygiene and help him or her with brushing, you may notice that your child's teeth don't quite line up. The two jaws may not quite line up, or your child may not be able to close his or her mouth fully. In these cases, your first response may be to panic and assume that your child will be cursed with bad teeth forever. In reality, however, the news may not be so bleak, and there are steps you can take to ensure that your child's adult teeth grow in strong, healthy and correctly aligned.
Recognizing Overbites and Underbites
Overbites and underbites tend to be genetic, much like other traits such as hair color and height. If you or your spouse have a malocclusion, or a misaligned bite, your child is more likely to suffer from the same condition. If you suspect that your child's bite is naturally out of place, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist to have it confirmed. Although there is little you can do while your child still has baby teeth, knowing what to expect can help you prepare for future dental work.
Letting Your Child's Baby Teeth Fall Out Naturally
When your child begins to lose baby teeth, they should be allowed to fall out naturally, with only a little assistance as necessary. Once permanent teeth are ready to erupt, the roots of baby teeth begin to dissolve, weakening their hold until the tooth pops out. If you pull the baby tooth too soon, the permanent tooth behind it may erupt prematurely and grow in crooked, potentially leading to a misaligned bite.
Waiting for Permanent Teeth to Grow In
If your child does have misaligned baby teeth, you should wait for the permanent teeth to grow in before considering any form of treatment. Your child's jaws need time to widen and grow before you can get an accurate assessment of dental alignment, and any orthodontics or surgery performed before maturity can lead to unpredictable and irreversible damage later on. It is still a good idea, though, to keep tabs on your child's teeth and their progress as they erupt and form an adult set. In some cases, children with awful baby teeth grow a perfect set of permanent teeth and surprise everyone.
Correcting a Misaligned Bite With Orthodontics and Surgery
Once your child's jaw has reached maturity, you can better assess the severity of the malocclusion and work with your pediatric dentist to correct it. This is typically done with orthodontics, which can be used to straighten both teeth and their bite. Very serious overbites and underbites may not be treatable through orthodontics alone and will require surgery to fix. This more difficult and invasive step should be discussed carefully with both your child and your dentist to ensure that it is the best possible treatment. Until that time, however, it is best to not worry about your child's teeth and let them grow in naturally. With any luck, you may be pleasantly surprised to see a healthy, straight set of adult teeth replacing the crooked baby ones. Contact a practice, such as Round Lake Dental Clinic, for more information.