Does your young child have one or more teeth that seem to stick out or are angled too far towards the front of the mouth? Known as buck teeth, or more formally as malocclusion, this problem is a common one. Here's what to do if your child is showing signs of malocclusion.
Meet with an orthodontist sooner rather than later.
Most cases of malocclusion can be corrected with orthodontic solutions like braces or invisible aligners. Chances are, your child won't be able to undergo this type of therapy until he or she is a teen. However, seeing the orthodontist early will allow this professional to determine the right time for your child's treatment based on how his or her growth progresses and how the teeth develop. This visit can also give you peace of mind. The orthodontist will let you know how severe your child's malocclusion is and what you can expect going forward, so you're not just left wondering and worrying.
Malocclusion can also perpetuate a number of dental issues, such as jaw pain and tooth decay. Seeing the orthodontist early and often as your child continues to grow will ensure that any problems that do arise due to the buck teeth are detected and treated early.
Make sure your child is brushing well.
One of the biggest issues with buck teeth is that they are often harder to keep clean. They may overlap each other or sit in front of other teeth, limiting the contact a toothbrush can have with some surfaces of the teeth. This can cause decay to begin in these teeth, as plaque and bacteria get caught against them for longer periods of time.
Start observing your child's tooth brushing habits and ensuring that he or she spends some extra time brushing all surfaces of the buck teeth. Also, help your child floss between these teeth and those that are next to them. Finishing with an antiseptic mouthwash will help kill any bacteria that are left between the teeth after brushing. If your child is struggling to brush the buck teeth effectively, the dentist or dental hygienist should be able to show them just how to angle the toothbrush to clean them most effectively.
Curb habits like thumb sucking.
Thumb sucking can make buck teeth worse. When your child puts his or her thumb in the mouth, forward pressure is placed on the teeth, pushing them further forward and out of alignment. So, if your child is still sucking on their thumb (or a pacifier or toy) it's important to take measures to stop this behavior as soon as possible. Here are a couple of tips that may help:
Offer positive reinforcement: When your child avoid thumb sucking at times he or she would usually thumb suck, offer a small reward. This could be as simple as a sticker or the chance to play a game your child really likes.
Suggest a replacement behavior: Pay attention to when your child thumb sucks. Most do it in response to certain triggers, like stress or being tired. Offer your child a different behavior, like squeezing a stress ball or coloring, at times like this so they are less likely to suck their thumb.
Consider orthodontic devices: If you cannot get you child to stop sucking their thumb with gentle reminders and the tips above, talk to your orthodontist. They may be able to place a special orthodontic device in your child's mouth to deter thumb sucking. This device will sit behind your child's front teeth and will feature prongs that make it uncomfortable to have the thumb in the mouth.
Buck teeth are common, but that does not mean they are harmless. Failing to deal with this problem may put your child at risk of tooth decay and other dental issues as they age, so get in touch with an orthodontist and start working on a treatment plan today. For more information, contact a local orthodontics clinic like Arrowhead Family Dentistry S. M. Bhatt DDS Inc.