The formation of a beautiful and healthy smile and the development of children’s proper diction is increasingly important in child rearing. Occlusion problems (or incorrect bite) in children are amenable and can be corrected, nevertheless, it is still much easier to prevent these problems than to treat them.
The formation of teeth and occlusion begins prenatally. The favorable course of pregnancy lays the foundation for proper bite development while, unfortunately, diseases and genetic factors may cause deviations.
A newborn’s lower jaw is often moved back in regard to the upper one. This feature allows him to avoid trauma during childbirth. By 6-8 months there is an alignment and the child’s occlusion gets fully formed when the milk teeth appear.
What affects correct occlusion (bite)?
• Type of feeding. Breastfeeding enforces and builds the jaw muscles, which corresponds with the baby’s sucking instinct and develops his lower jaw faster.
• Nursing position. The mother’s breast or a bottleneck should not put pressure on a baby’s gums. In case of artificial feeding the baby’s position should be similar to that of breast-feeding, because milk leaking passively into the mouth does not create enough pressure on the muscles.
• Introduction of complementary foods. By the age of 8-9 months, it is advisable to introduce solid foods, as the sucking reflex is replaced by the chewing reflex. The muscles involved in the formation of the occlusion are trained during the chewing process.
• Sleeping position. It is recommended that a child sleeps in different positions on a firm flat mattress starting from birth, and no pillow should be used until he is one and a half years old. It is necessary to turn him from one side to another and onto his back from time to time, and make sure that a baby does not put his hand under his cheek or does not throw back his head while sleeping.
• Selection of pacifiers. Pacifiers meet the sucking reflex, which is sometimes necessary when breastfeeding is impossible. It is advisable to choose silicone orthodontic pacifiers which are naturally shaped like a nipple.
• Enlarged nasopharyngeal tonsils (adenoids). Enlarged adenoids also disrupt the normal development of the lower jaw. Because of the constant nasal congestion, a child has to breathe through his mouth, which eventually results in formation of an adenoid face: pale, with dilated nose and open mouth.
• Unwanted habits. Thumb sucking, slouching habit, etc. also have a negative influence on the formation of occlusion. Parents should pay attention.
How to brush your teeth properly?
When a baby’s first teeth appear, they must be carefully brushed with a silicone fingerstall brush at least twice a day. Starting from the age of one and a half years you can already start brushing teeth and rinsing the child’s mouth after eating.
When choosing toothpaste, pay attention to the age labeling. Fluoride toothpaste can be used only when a child can rinse his mouth well and will not swallow toothpaste.
A toothbrush head should be of the size of two or three child’s teeth and be appropriate to his age. The brush should be replaced after 2-3 months of use, or if the brush has lost its shape, as well as after a child has had an infection.
Pediatricians advise to arrange your child’s visit to the dentist six months after the eruption of the first tooth, and to do it twice a year in the future as a prophylactic measure. The timely assistance of a qualified doctor can correct even minor deviations in childhood and prevent them from growing into adult problems in the future.
MD, PhD, AMC Pediatrician,