Early Intervention is Key: Don’t Wait to Address Dental Issues in Children by Age 3


Jun 30, 2024 - 12:40
Early Intervention is Key: Don’t Wait to Address Dental Issues in Children by Age 3

Early Intervention is Key: Don’t Wait to Address Dental Issues in Children by Age 3



Pediatric Dentist Dr. Nurgül Demir emphasizes the importance of dental care for children at the age of 3. Dr. Demir highlights the need for an examination when a child’s milk teeth are fully developed, typically around 36 months, to ensure optimal growth and development of teeth and jaws. She warns about habits such as thumb sucking, pen chewing, and nail biting.

"Monitoring teeth from the time they begin to emerge until the permanent teeth are fully in place is crucial," says Dr. Nurgül Demir. "Proper alignment of teeth during chewing and speaking, maintaining the physiological closure relationships of the jaws, and ensuring an aesthetically pleasing appearance by keeping teeth in their normal positions are vital aspects of oral health and overall development in children. Early detection of jaw position and structure disorders, as well as alignment and shape issues of teeth, is the first step towards successful treatment."

Potential Damage to Dental Structure

Dr. Demir points out that certain bad oral habits in children can lead to future problems. "Habits such as thumb sucking, pen chewing, and nail biting cause constant force on the teeth and the jaw bones they are aligned with. The frequency, duration, and intensity of these forces play a decisive role in the extent of potential damage to teeth and jaws. Issues like protruding teeth, open bite (a gap between the front and back teeth when the jaws are closed), and altered lower and upper face ratios due to developmental disorders in the jaws are some problems that can arise from these bad oral habits. The duration and frequency of the force applied to teeth and jaws pose a greater risk factor than the magnitude of the force itself."

Impeding Development

"Proper alignment of teeth and complete physiological development of jaws rely heavily on the correct positioning of lips, cheeks, and tongue both during function and at rest," states Dr. Demir. "For the physiological functions of the tongue and lips to be performed effectively, the size and placement of the lip and tongue ties must be ideal. Likewise, habitual incorrect swallowing and tongue thrust issues due to improper tongue positioning can lead to developmental problems in the jaws."

Mouth Breathing Affects Dental Development

Dr. Demir also identifies mouth breathing as a significant risk factor affecting dental health and jaw development in children. "Factors like nasal bone deviations, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, allergies, and the upper jaw being positioned further back than normal can cause children to breathe through their mouths instead of their noses. Unless the underlying cause of mouth breathing is addressed, the tongue cannot support the upper jaw at rest, leading to narrowing of the upper jaw, shifting of the lower jaw during closure, misalignment of teeth, increased facial height, and joint damage."

Increasing Prevalence of Teeth Grinding

Noting that teeth grinding is now common among children as well as adults, Dr. Demir says, "We must also consider its impact on dental alignment and jaw development. Teeth grinding can result from emotional stress, neurological issues, or misalignment of teeth, and it often accompanies teeth clenching. The vertical or horizontal forces applied to teeth during sleep or throughout the day are far more destructive than chewing forces. Over time, this can lead to jaw joint problems, cracks and fractures in teeth, ear and head pain, as well as wear on tooth surfaces, causing a reduction in normal vertical jaw dimensions and a decrease in lower face height."

Recommendations for Parents:

  1. A pediatric dental examination is essential when a child's milk teeth are fully developed, around 36 months, to assess the ideal growth patterns of teeth and jaws.

  2. Early detection of missing or extra teeth, cysts, tumors, and other pathologies that could disrupt the alignment of teeth and jaw development is crucial for planning appropriate treatment based on the child's age.

  3. Preventing bad oral habits in children, identifying early signs of improper positioning of the tongue, teeth, and jaws, and detecting respiratory issues and teeth grinding early on are vital to avoid long-term problems.

  4. If bad oral habits and other issues are not addressed early in childhood, they may persist into later years, increasing the likelihood of treatment relapse even if corrective measures are taken.

  5. Successful dental treatments for children depend on the child's cooperation and the active, constructive involvement of parents in the treatment process. With these conditions met, early planned dental treatments can lead to long-term relief and healthy development.


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