How to Avoid Major Orthodontics
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Braces, retainers, dental surgery, and more are all one giant headache — and toothache. Major dental issues and major orthodontics can not only be painful for your mouth but painful for your wallet, as well. Unfortunately, in some instances, you might never be able to avoid major orthodontics issues, such as those with a genetic predisposition for it. Luckily, there are things you can do to avoid major orthodontics to give yourself the best chance of having the best mouth possible. Keep reading for tips on how to avoid major orthodontics in yourself and your children.
How to Avoid Major Orthodontics: It Starts at Birth
Even though newborn babies are still months away from their first teeth, good oral health begins at birth. The best ways to avoid major orthodontics for your child later in life include limiting bottle feeding, pacifier use, and digit sucking. It is important to preface that ensuring your baby is fed and healthy is the most important thing, whether through formula and bottle feeding or traditional breastfeeding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months with continued breastfeeding while introducing appropriate complementary foods for one year or longer. The World Health Organization also recommends exclusively breastfeeding up to 6 months with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or older.
However, the truth is that less than 25% of women are able to achieve this goal. Whether it is issues with breastfeeding, unsupportive work policies, concerns about the infant’s weight and nutrition, or just simply personal preference, bottle feeding is becoming more and more common.
One of the issues with bottle feeding is that it can cause poor oral development. Breastfeeding is a more difficult motion for the mouth than bottle feeding, which promotes oral health. Therefore, the mouth is less likely to suffer from malocclusion. In addition, infants who are fed mother’s milk are less likely to suffer from tooth decay later in life.
Digit Sucking & Pacifier Use
Pacifiers and digit sucking are very helpful tools for babies to learn how to self-soothe. They help teach the baby that they can calm themselves down, which means more sleep for both parent and baby — and this means happier moods for both! However, when learning how to avoid major orthodontics, it is important to limit these once the baby is about four months old.
Dangers of ongoing pacifier use and thumb-sucking include:
- Pacifier use and digit-sucking push the teeth and jaw into an overbite
- They might disrupt breastfeeding and cause nipple confusion
- They can also cause buck teeth, underbites, and changes to the shape of the roof of the mouth — all of which can lead to major orthodontics issues
Starting with Chewy Foods
When your pediatrician tells you that your baby is old enough to eat solid foods at around four months old, it is very important to start! It might be tempting to go straight to purees and baby food; however, also incorporating chewy foods will help with oral development.
Good chewy foods to start with include:
- Steamed carrots or sweet potato
- Soft cheese
Good nutrition supports your entire body. Your weight, skin, mood, and even your teeth are all affected by the food you eat. Maintaining good nutrition will help you avoid major orthodontics throughout your life.
Foods that help promote healthy teeth and gums include:
- Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, and fortified soymilk help promote strong teeth and bones. Other sources of calcium include tofu (made with calcium sulfate), canned salmon, almonds, and some dark leafy green vegetables.
- Phosphorus, a mineral found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans, is good for strong teeth.
Vitamin C promotes gum health, so eat plenty of sources, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.
- Smart snacking also can keep your mouth in good shape. Resist the urge to snack frequently — the more often you eat, especially between meals, the more likely you are to introduce acid attacks on your teeth.
Myofunctional Therapy is a type of treatment to help disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. Individuals who may need Myofunctional Therapy include individuals who have difficulty eating, speaking sounds like, “s” in “sun,” “sh” in “ship,” or “j” in “jump.”, breathing, swallowing, or drinking.
According to the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders are disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. OMDs may affect, directly and/or indirectly, breastfeeding, facial skeletal growth and development, chewing, swallowing, speech, occlusion, temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, the stability of orthodontic treatment, facial esthetics, and more.
By incorporating Myofunctional Therapy early and often, you can learn how to avoid major orthodontics later in life. It will not only help with the above Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders, but it will also help picky eaters, sleep, drooling, and much more in children.
Wearing Protective Gear
One of the easiest ways to avoid major orthodontics in life is to prevent injuries from happening by protecting your teeth. While walking around in a protective bubble seems like the best way, it isn’t the most practical! Children fall all the time, accidents happen, and adults are clumsy, too. Therefore, it is essential to do your best to follow the rules, laws, and your own common sense.
Ways to protect your teeth from injury include:
- Wearing an athletic mouth guard while playing sports
- Wearing a helmet while riding a bike, motorcycle, or other moving vehicles in which you are exposed
- Using a seatbelt
Proper Dental Hygiene
Proper dental hygiene will set you up with the best possible chances of avoiding major orthodontics. There is nobody else but you who can care for your teeth daily, so getting into a good routine and having the proper habits are all up to you.
Ten great brushing tips, according to Colgate, include:
- Use Proper Brushing Technique. There is a wrong and right way to brush your teeth. For a more thorough brush:
- Use a soft-bristled brush
- Beginning at your gum line, brush at a 45° angle
- Brush the outside of your teeth, inside, and all over your molars
- Be sure to get every nook and cranny around your teeth
- Gently brush your gums and tongue
- Brush Enough. Brush for at least two minutes a session. Use an hourglass or your favorite song to help you and your children keep track of time.
- Pick the Right Brush. Manual or electric, bristle and handle type, head size, and of course, color! When it comes to choosing a toothbrush, there are a lot of options. Select a brush with a soft bristle and small to medium size head as recommended. After that, the rest is up to you.
- Look for the ADA Seal. Ensure that your toothpaste is safe and effective by choosing one with the ADA seal and fluoride – this will fight plaque and prevent tooth decay.
- Floss Properly. Like brushing, there’s a wrong and right way to floss. Remember to:
- Give yourself about 18 inches of floss
- Wind most of it around middle fingers, leaving 1to 2 inches on both sides
- Make sure the floss is tight between your thumbs and index finger, then gently slide it between your teeth, using clean sections as you go from tooth to tooth
- Gently floss beneath the gum line
- Use a Mouthwash. Mouthwash freshens breath, reduces plaque and gingivitis, whitens teeth, and soothes dry mouth. And with its antimicrobial benefits and additional fluoride, you’ll wonder why you didn’t add it to your routine sooner!
- Clean Your Brush. To keep your toothbrush clean, simply rinse it off and let it air dry after brushing. Avoid covering or sharing it, as this breeds and spreads bacteria.
- Change Your Brush. Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months and after recovering from an illness. Most manual and electric toothbrushes have a color indicator reminder on the bristles. If you’re a parent or caregiver, keep in mind that the more often you change your child’s toothbrush, the more excited they’ll be to do it.
- Use a Tongue Scraper. A tongue scraper rinses away excessive oral bacteria. Add this practice to your daily oral care routine to eliminate bacteria and freshen your breath. Select a toothbrush with a scraper on the back for added convenience.
- After Snacking, Get Scrubbing. Brushing twice a day, usually after breakfast and dinner, should be ingrained by now. But if you have a late-night snack, you should also have a late-night brush. Cookies and ice cream fill your mouth with sugar and bacteria, and sleeping for 7 to 8 hours after your snack without brushing allows bacteria to fester and spread.
Additional Oral Hygiene Tips
- Cut back on acidic drinks. Limiting the number of sodas and fruit drinks will help prevent dental issues, cavities, and more.
- Quit smoking. Smokers have twice the risk for gum disease than compared with a nonsmoker.
- Avoid hard foods. Hard candies and other treats may be delicious, but they can cause injury and damage to your teeth.
Go to the Dentist Regularly
Of course, we will be the ones to say it — Make sure you visit your dentist often! Your dentist will make sure that your teeth are clean, are free of cavities, and will be able to get in front of any major orthodontics issues that come your way. By visiting the dentist regularly, you will be able to avoid major orthodontics and have a happy life with healthy teeth.
About Gorman Health and Wellness
Avoiding major orthodontics is doable, even later in life. At our office, we use OralDNA Labs™ laboratory services. They ensure we are giving our patients the best oral health information possible. OralDNA Labs™ is a specialty diagnostics company designed to provide reliable, definitive, and cost-effective clinical tests that guide oral health professionals in detecting and prognosing disease at an earlier, more treatable stage. Early detection of gum disease allows Dr. Gorman to determine the best course of treatment for your unique symptoms, provide relief, and help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile.
Martin N. Gorman, D.D.S. is a highly trained practitioner with over 40 years of experience in dentistry. He specializes in the treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), sleep disorders, and epigenetic orthodontics. He believes all of his patients should have an opportunity to achieve optimal dental health in a safe, caring, anxiety-free environment. He is committed to patient comfort.
However, for many individuals, avoiding major orthodontics can be difficult. Whether it is a genetic predisposition or an accidental injury, dental issues happen. If you are ready to get on track with your teeth and major orthodontics, we can help.