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You might expect your little one to need braces when they’re older – but did you know that the causes of crooked teeth can begin during the early years?

Crooked teeth are usually caused by a bad bite, which means your child’s upper and lower teeth don’t come together symmetrically.

When this happens, teeth adapt to fit the space they have to work with, often appearing in the wrong place, crooked, or not at all.

While in the past we may have had to live with a bad bite until it’s time for metal train tracks, today we can look out for key signs that indicate things are not going to plan. It’s all part of a modern approach called early orthodontics.

1. Check out their chewing

We all know that a balanced diet is good for children’s teeth – but did you know that the same goes for chewing?

Balanced chewing – between left side and right, and between hard and soft foods – is key to preventing problems with jaw development and tooth eruption.

Watch how your child eats, and encourage them to chew on both sides of their mouth.

2. Say more to raw

Including lots of raw foods in your child’s diet, such as carrots, peppers, broccoli and mange tout, provides the texture your child needs to chew correctly, which in turn encourages good jaw development.

So dig out their favourite dips and let them get stuck in at snack time.

3. Be careful with cutting

By the time your child has a full set of milk teeth, they should be able to grind down food effectively using their molars.

Avoid cutting your child’s meat into very tiny pieces – this makes it too easy to chew. Do cut it across the grain, though, to reduce choking risk.

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4. Nix the night habits

Does your child snore, grind their teeth, wake up during the night, or too early in the morning?

All these are signs that they may be breathing through their mouth and not their nose.

Mouth breathing not only causes abnormal jaw formation, but because it disrupts sleep, it can also have a deeper developmental impact.

5 Take their tongue to task

When the tongue sits in the correct position – pressed up against the roof of the mouth – all the muscles that connect to the jaw, the base of the skull, the spine and the throat are activated, and this means healthy jaw development.

Observe your child watching TV and see if their tongue sticks out while they are relaxed.

6. Follow their swallow

Watch your child’s normal swallow. Can they swallow food comfortably with their teeth together?

If it looks uncomfortable for them, or you notice their tongue between their teeth, it is likely they have some form of incorrect swallow, which can impact on jaw growth.

7. Don’t wait too late

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you don’t have to wait until the teen years for treatment.

With modern early orthodontics at Happy Kids Dental, we can treat children while their jaw is still soft and growing, correcting and reversing a host of developmental problems.

By reducing or even eliminating the need for braces in future, early orthodontics safeguards your child’s healthy smile.

Concerned about your child’s smile?

Book an early orthodontic consultation today with Happy Kids Dental’s team of specialist and consultant orthodontists on 020 7078 0822.