Show us your pearly whites

Hints from DUXTON DENTAL on what parents should look out for with their children’s teeth.

Children should be seeing a dentist or school dental nurse regularly for dental care, but sometimes it’s you, the parents, who first notice something is not quite right with your child’s teeth.

Here are some things that you could look out for that can indicate a bite problem is possibly developing.

Do the upper and lower midlines match up?
This can result from the upper jaw being too narrow, making the child move their jaw to the side to chew. If this is left untreated, the lower jaw can grow into an asymmetry, so the chin is off to one side.

Is there a tooth sitting on the wrong side?
Usually, all the upper teeth sit on the outside (cheek-side) of the lower teeth. If a tooth is on the wrong side, this is called a crossbite. 

Do the teeth poke out?
Or does your child sit their lower lip under the top teeth at rest? This is sometimes called “buck teeth” or an overbite.

If buck teeth or a crossbite is left untreated, it can affect the teeth and the bite and can also increase the risk of accidental traumatic dental injury.

Do they have lots of teeth and not enough room?
Termed ‘crowding’, this can lead to teeth being pushed out of place or stopping others from coming through properly.

Does the lower jaw sit back and seem too small to fit the upper jaw?
This is termed an increased overjet or an undershot jaw.

This can be due to a jaw or tooth problem. Left untreated, the teeth can grow past each other, and the teeth start biting on the gums behind the upper teeth.

Has a tooth not come through?
When the baby teeth come out, usually the replacement adult tooth comes through almost immediately. If a tooth hasn’t come through after six months, then it may be stuck or missing.

What if your child can’t get their front teeth to bite together?
When the back teeth are together, is there a space between the front teeth? They should overlap so you can see about three-quarters of the lower front teeth. If there is a gap (you can see all of the lower front teeth), we call that an anterior open bite, and if they overlap too much (you can’t see the lower front teeth), we call that a deep bite.

An open bite can be hereditary or can develop from a digit habit like thumb sucking.

Are there large gaps between the teeth?
This can be caused by an extra tooth being up in the gum or a thick band of fibrous tissue. It can also be if the teeth are small or missing.

If you can see any of the conditions described, it might be worth consulting a dental professional.

Even if you haven’t noticed any of the issues above, we still suggest your child has an orthodontic assessment at around nine years of age. A jaw scan at this age may also pick up missing adult teeth.

At Duxton Dental, we are experienced in treating children and teens using the Invisalign system and traditional braces. To determine if any treatment is required now or in the future, call for a free orthodontic consultation.

03 348 5488 / duxtondental.co.nz