It's a matter of great joy for a parent to see their baby's first tooth erupt. With time, more teeth appear and by the time a child is two, s/he gets a full set of 20 milk teeth.
But at times, those pearly whites do not come out in a neat row as expected. They stick out in odd angles, often coming one on top of the other. This condition is known as ‘crowded teeth’. How does it happen? Is there a solution? Let’s understand this condition deeper.
What causes crowded teeth?
Crowded teeth’ are increasingly becoming a common problem today. More often than not, it is a result of poor jaw development.
It is not caused due to hereditary factors or the sprouting of big teeth in small jaws.
Crowded or misaligned teeth are caused due to:
- Mouth breathing
- Tongue thrusting
- Reverse swallowing
- Thumb sucking
If a child’s jaw shape and function is correct, there is plenty of room for teeth to grow properly. However, the above myofunctional factors restrict jaw development, leading to misaligned teeth. Let’s understand these factors better.
If a child is a mouth breather, their tongue is unable to rest in the correct position and the mouth will remain open. This causes the muscles of the jaws and face to restrict correct forward growth, forcing it backwards and downwards resulting in narrow jaws and an underdeveloped face.
The tongue determines the shape and size of the upper jaw. If the child habitually has a low tongue position (as in mouth breathing) the upper teeth will not have enough space and the lower jaw is forced back and down. If your tongue does not rest in the roof of your mouth, the top jaw will become too narrow and teeth won’t have enough room to grow straight.
Incorrect swallowing is when the tongue pushes forward and the lips push back when swallowing. When this happens your front teeth will be pushed backwards and this also causes your teeth to be crowded.
The forces of the lips and cheeks greatly affect the positioning of the teeth and jaws. Poor muscle tone or incorrect control of the lip and cheek muscles (as in thumb sucking) make it difficult for the child to seal their lips together and increases overactivity when swallowing, thus leading to incorrect jaw development.
Is there a solution to misaligned teeth?
It seems most of our children these days are developing crowded teeth and their jaws are developing incorrectly. Although symptoms of this can be evident from as young as three years old, dentists usually recommend waiting until the child is older to treat with braces and possibly extractions.
Braces are an effective way to mechanically straighten teeth. But since parents are not aware of any alternatives, most often parents accept this professional advice and hold off treatment until their child is around 12 to 14.
We all know this does not solve the issue permanently though and once the braces are removed, teeth will almost certainly relapse and crowd again, especially if the child does not wear their retainer.
Early intervention is an ideal way to stop a child’s teeth from crowding. This is not possible once the face and jaws have stopped growing.
But there is also a different approach to orthodontic treatment. Myobrace,an alternative, can correct myofunctional factors much earlier than with traditional treatments and most often without the need for braces or extractions. Nurturing the child’s natural development using this system also allows children to develop to their genetic potential.
What's more? Myobrace also avoids painful extractions which are needed in most cases of braces.
So it's a holistic approach to straighten teeth and ensures a good facial profile as well.
If you are in Mumbai and would like to consult a pediatric dentist, reach out to Dr. Varsha Daryanani, Pediatric dentist and Myobrace Specialist, Crown Corner Family Dentistry, Nariman Point, Mumbai.
Also read: Issues Related To Teething In Babies