Malocclusion, which is the poor alignment of teeth, has serious consequences beyond the appearance of the teeth. Children tend to suffer many of these effects more than adults. Here are some of the things your child may suffer due to malocclusion.
Kids with crooked teeth often feel self-conscious about their appearances. Some kids with malocclusion even don't smile as much as they would because they think others will see and laugh at their smiles. Such fears are not unfounded because kids do tease each other about their appearances and even call each other names for the same reasons.
Such things may affect your child's ability to socialize with other kids. While crooked teeth won't directly your child's ability to socialize, they might be less inclined to do so if they fear they'll be bullied. A lack of socialization is not healthy since kids learn a lot when they socialize with their peers. The effect is particularly evident in adolescent girls as compared to adolescent boys.
Malocclusion may also affect your kid's speech development, which eventually affects the way your child pronounces words if you don't correct the situation. The effect on speech occurs because the lips, tongue, and teeth all work together to create sounds. Any change on any of these three parts of the mouth affects the way you speak.
For example, some sounds require you to press your tongue against the back of your teeth. Your kid won't pronounce such sounds clearly if their front teeth are misaligned. Malocclusion particularly affects the pronunciation of S and T sounds.
Malocclusion can even affect your child's nutrition, and poor nutrition has long-term effects on growth and health.
The effect on nutrition comes in two main ways. First, children may have a difficult time with some foods and even grow to dislike them. Secondly, children may also fail to chew their food properly if their teeth don't align properly. In the end, children might not get all the nutrients they need.
Two related issues mean malocclusion increases the risk of dental caries. First, crooked teeth tend to trap bits of food between them. These bits of food feed the bacteria that eventually damage the teeth.
Secondly, normal flossing and brushing don't reach all the spaces and surfaces between crooked teeth. Poor hygiene between crooked teeth allows dental plaque to build up, and the plaque eventually damages the teeth. Dental caries may result in tooth loss if you don't treat the condition in time.
Also, crooked teeth are not as strong as teeth with good alignment. For example, an overbite or underbite (classic forms of malocclusion) makes some teeth jut out over the others, and the teeth that jut out experience absorb the full force of any blow to the mouth. In case of a fall (say, a bike accident), a hard knock to the teeth can easily knock out those teeth that stick out.
Lastly, malocclusion may also cause constant jaw pain. Poor alignment of teeth creates unusual stress on the tendons, nerves, and muscles whenever the jaw moves. Every time your kid speaks, eats, or merely opens and closes their mouth, they may stress the tissues that connect their jaws. The result is chronic jaw pain that only goes away if you treat the malocclusion.
If you or a dentist recognizes malocclusion in your child, get the child the help they need as soon as possible to avoid the above consequences. Bring your child to Bay Pediatric Dentistry, and we will examine their teeth and advise you on the best treatment for the child. Treatment for malocclusion includes the use of braces, jaw plates, and surgery, among others.