We all want our children to have beautiful, straight permanent teeth. Unfortunately, straight teeth are not guaranteed. Many factors affect this process, including facial structure, genetics, diet, eating habits and overall health.
As your children grow, their jaws lengthen to allow space for the permanent teeth. You can witness this growth by observing the widening spaces between each of the primary teeth. Normally, the baby teeth remain until the permanent tooth below pushes against the primary roots, causing them to resorb (dissolve). The baby tooth then becomes loose and falls out, allowing the permanent tooth to emerge. If the primary tooth is lost too early, the other primary teeth can drift and block the space intended for the permanent tooth. This problem is compounded if several primary teeth are missing. One option is to install small, temporary “spacers” to prevent teeth from drifting until the permanent tooth emerges. This “ounce of prevention” can help provide an environment that encourages the tooth to fill the gap in a natural manner.
Early intervention produces the maximum end result, so it is wise to bring your little ones in as soon as baby teeth begin to appear, and certainly when those same baby teeth begin to loosen and fall out, several years later. We can spot potential problems and intervene, if necessary, to assure the best dental outcome.
We have limited control of inherited traits at this time, but we certainly can take steps to influence our children’s (and our own) oral health through wise diet choices and eating habits. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are ideal, and provide the nutrients essential to nurture healthy teeth and gums. Limiting or eliminating added sugars helps to reduce the causes of tooth decay. In addition, eliminating behaviors like thumb-sucking will help to avoid undue pressure inside the mouth that can lead to unwanted effects upon the palate and shape of the mouth as your child grows. It’s nice to realize there are still things we can do to “shape” the outcome of our children’s dental health.