Mal – occlusion literally means “poor closing” or “bad bite.” A bad bite can be caused by several factors:
A dental malocclusion occurs when the teeth are not lined up properly, even though the jaws may be properly aligned.
Dental malocclusion caused by crowding
A skeletal malocclusion occurs when the upper and lower jaws don’t line up correctly.
Overbite: Upper jaw protrudes or lower jaw recedes (or both).
Underbite: Lower jaw protrudes.
Your teeth are not as fixed in place as you might think! Just as a constant breeze can cause a tree to grow at an angle, repetitive forces on your teeth can cause them to become “out of alignment.”
- Thumbsucking can lead to an Open Bite.
- Tongue thrusting (pushing your tongue against your teeth) can slowly, but surely, move your teeth out of alignment.
- Fingernail biting, or habitually biting or chewing on most objects, can cause worn teeth.
- Mouth breathing: Breathing primarily through your mouth instead of your nose can dry out the tissues of your mouth leading to swollen and irritated gums. Also, the unnatural jaw alignment of mouth breathing creates and imbalance that can lead to a malocclusion. If mouth breathing is caused by blocked nasal passages, the obstruction must be corrected as well to prevent a relapse.
Why Do Children Suck Their Thumbs?
Children suck on things because sucking is one of a baby’s natural instincts. Sucking makes them feel secure and content and may induce drowsiness. Prolonged thumbsucking (or pacifier sucking) interferes with the proper growth of the mouth and the alignment of the teeth. This improper development, if not corrected, will change the appearance of the child’s face.
When Should Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?
Children should have ceased sucking between the ages of 2 to 4. If you are having trouble breaking your child’s habit, try to:
- Comfort him if he is feeling insecure. Sometimes children suck their thumb for a sense of security.
- Instead of scolding your child for thumbsucking, praise him when he doesn’t suck his thumb, especially during difficult periods.
- Explain to older children the dangers of thumbsucking and involve them in choosing the method to break the habit.
If you need help stopping your child’s thumbsucking habit, we can provide you with a patient-friendly dental appliance that will break the habit. Contact Us for more information and an appointment.
An open bite often results from thumbsucking or prolonged use of a pacifier. If the open bite is not corrected early, the child may develop a habit of deviated swallowing and/or anterior tongue thrust. (This is when the child presses against the back of his teeth repeatedly and subconsciously with his tongue). These habits lead to further dental problems and make correction of the open bite more difficult.
The best cure for open bite is to prevent it in the first place by eliminating thumbsucking and the use of pacifiers as early as possible for your child. Untreated, open bite can lead to facial malformation, abnormal speech patterns and significant orthodontic complications.