The One Thing You Must Know Before Your Child Gets Braces

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By Alyssa Stiles, BS, RDH, LMT, COM, BBEA-1

Braces are a major investment of both time and money, and believe it or not, some people have to go through the process multiple times. In my practice, I’ve treated patients who have gone through up to THREE rounds of braces! THREE!!! 😱

Why is it that some people need braces more than once, and how can you prevent YOUR child from experiencing orthodontic relapse?

The answer could be right under your nose…

It could be your mouth.

The position of the teeth is largely dependent on the balance of forces exerted on them, including pressure from the muscles of the lips and tongue. This is known in the field of orthodontics as “The Equilibrium Theory.”

The lips should be closed and the tongue should be parked up high on the roof of the mouth when they’re not in use. Proper placement of the tongue and lips at rest should help to improve growth and development of the face and jaws. It also helps to keep the teeth in alignment.

To facilitate breathing, mouth breathers will have open lips and a low, forward positioning of the tongue. That imbalance of pressure against the teeth, over long periods of time, can shift the teeth and change the trajectory of your child’s growth. Oral habits, like long-term thumb sucking and pacifier use, can also contribute to the imbalance of pressures against the teeth.

But get this!

According to research, recognition of mouth breathing in young people by orthodontists is poor (17.1%-31.4%).

So, before you spend thousands of dollars on braces, look at your child. Observe him or her while he or she is playing video games, reading, playing instruments, homework, watching TV, or doing other activities. Also, check in on your child at different points during sleep.

Are the lips parted at rest? Is the tongue visible in the mouth?

If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, you should see also consider having your child screened by a Certified Orofacial Myologist®.

A Certified Orofacial Myologist® can treat your child’s oral rest posture and help them to make it a habit. Myofunctional therapy is reported to reduce the chances of orthodontic relapse in the long-term. It may also reduce the amount of time spent in orthodontic care and help to improve your child’s overall growth and development. Maximizing your child’s potential for growth and development can prevent a slew of other issues down the line (e.g., sleep apnea and TMJ pain). Myofunctional therapists also treat a host of other oral dysfunction issues, like tongue thrusting, as well as oral habits, like thumb sucking, nail biting, and pacifiers.

Pittsburgh Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, LLC offers on-site orofacial myofunctional therapy services in Pittsburgh, PA as well as teletherapy. Visit us at www.pghomt.com and at www.facebook.com/pghomt

Source: Clinical recognition of mouth breathers by orthodontists: A preliminary study.

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