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Can You Prevent Needing Braces?

Every health field is evolving, and has changed rapidly over just the last few generations. It is only recently that braces have been available, but then again, the same can be said for formula, pacifiers, and many other advances that parents now rely on. All parents make the tough choices that they believe are best for their child, but having the most information possible can lead to better developmental processes for the children later in life.

Some of these advancements in technology have come out of necessity, and have allowed parents to give their children better lives. Again, formula and braces are great examples of this. Sometimes, we don’t realize that some of the newer options have negative effects that we couldn’t possible have predicted; for example, many scientific studies point to formula as an indirect contributor to a need for braces. Recently, The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics published a study on factors that may or may not cause the misalignment of teeth, and what parents can do to prevent it.

Nutrition

Nutrition is probably first on every list that has been written on personal health or caring for the health of a child – for good reason! Feeding your child a diet that is nutrient-dense will help to ensure proper oral growth for the child. If possible, skip processed foods. Parenting “on-the-go” is sometimes only possible with help from at least some processed food, but the more you can avoid it, the better. In addition, make sure that the child is weaned onto chewy food as early as possible. Your pediatrician can help you out with the timing, but graduating from soft foods to those that help them exercise their chewing skills is likely to help prevent a future need for braces.

Oral and Overall Health

Early practice in chewing is a great start to young oral health. Even earlier, you can try certain techniques such as pinching closed the baby’s lip after nursing or feeding a bottle, to help the baby learn not to mouth breathe. Keep an eye out for mouth breathing during the baby’s sleep as well, as this may be an early indicator of oral trouble. In addition, hygiene at home and at daycare is important to the child’s oral health. Preventing respiratory issues will prevent the amount of time in which the child cannot breathe through his or her nose, which is an early factor that can contribute to the need for braces.

Breastfeed for 1-2 Years

Believe it or not, breastfeeding is one of the most important things a mother can do to prevent the need for braces later in life. Of course, there are many reasons that a number of mothers are unable to breastfeed; however, one to two years of breastfeeding can help the child significantly if it is possible to do so. Soft foods, diet liquification, and technological developments that allowed breastfeeding to decrease over the years are all causes that the human jaw has shrunk over the years, essentially leading to crooked teeth. It is just as important to exercise the mouth, jaws, and tongue as it is any other part of the body, and breastfeeding can help exercise these areas for proper development.

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Dr. Mark Braasch
Meadow Hills Dental Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
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