How can I prevent my child from developing an overbite?
As parents, we worry about everything, especially when our children are young. Is my child growing correctly? Are they meeting milestones on time? Will that headstrong spirit lead to a corner office or a jail cell?
While parenting is chock full of things you can’t control, there is one thing you can do for sure – prevent your child from developing an overbite.
Though some people with an overbite are simply genetically predisposed to develop “buck teeth,” for many patients, an overbite is caused by lifestyle factors beginning in their earliest years.
Here are some things you can do now to prevent your child from developing an overbite when their permanent teeth come in.
Take away the pacifier –
A pacifier is every parent’s best friend, at least for a little while! But don’t let your child use a pacifier for too long in one sitting, or for too many years. Long-term pacifier use will change the shape of the roof of the mouth, which can lead to an overbite. Make sure your child is using their pacifier only on occasion, not as an all-day, everyday thing. By age 4, your child should be weaned completely from the pacifier to prevent damage to their teeth.
Stop thumb sucking –
Just as a pacifier can change the roof of your child’s mouth and result in a misaligned bite, thumb sucking can, too.
Breaking your child’s habit of sucking their thumb is more difficult that breaking the pacifier habit, because you can’t take their thumbs away! Fortunately, you can find lots of resources online that can give you options for helping your child kick the habit.
Protect those baby teeth from early loss –
Many people think that baby teeth are disposable because they’re going to fall out anyway. But those little teeth have a big job! Losing baby teeth on the bottom jaw before nature intends can cause the remaining teeth to shift out of alignment. This can cause an overbite.
Make sure your child wears protective headgear in sports, and if a baby tooth is knocked out during play long before it’s due to come out, call your dentist right away. Many times, a knocked-out tooth can be restored to the mouth if you act quickly enough.
Make sure your child is properly brushing and flossing, too, to preserve the integrity of their baby teeth.
Treat tongue thrusting –
Tongue thrusting is an involuntary movement in which the tongue pushes against the back of the front teeth. Tongue-thrusting is normal in babies, but ideally, children grow out of the behavior before it has time to damage the position of the teeth.
If your child is out the baby stage and is still tongue-thrusting, talk to your orthodontist. There are exercises your child can do to stop tongue thrusting, and oral appliances can stop the behavior, too.
Don’t let them chew (on non-food, that is) –
Chewing on pencils, fingernails, or other non-food items on a regular basis puts ongoing stress on the front teeth, which can push them out of position and lead to an overbite. Again, the internet is your friend. Breaking a chewing habit is tough, but you can find lots of resources online that can help.
Want more help with your child’s overbite?
Schedule an appointment with us today. Atlanta smiles are what we do best.