Does abnormal oral habits affect your child’s face growth?


Growth and development of the face and the jaws is a part of the overall development of a child. However, some bad oral habits like mouth breathing, digit sucking, tongue thrusting can lead to improper development of your child’s face. What are the signs that are the red flags in your child? How can you rectify any oral habits that have a potential to cause malocclusion in your child?


Says Dr Prithiviraj, Senior orthodontist and dentist ————“The facial growth and development  in your child can be effected by certain bad oral habits. These habits are generally detected at an early age itself. Identifying them and its correction is the key to proper jaw growth.”



Your child can restore to breathing with the mouth due to certain medical conditions like a deviated nasal septum or enlarged adenoids and tonsils. Correction o these defects early helps the child resort to nasal breathing. Some  of the symptoms of mouth breathing include deficient length of the upper jaw in the front ( anterior open bite ), dryness of mouth, increased decayed teeth, snoring in sleep, lethargy, inability to concentrate in school, loss of appetite. You will notice that your child keeps his mouth open while watching TV or doing other activities. If you notice any o these signs, please get your child evaluated by his doctor. A referral to an ENT will b required. Removal of the enlarged adenoids or correction of the deviated nasal septum may be required.  After the surgery get your child evaluated by an orthodontist. 

Dr Prithiviraj says______” Sometimes the mouth breathing can persist as a habit or an open bite. In such a case we provide your child with a simple appliance called the oral screen or orthodontic trainer to correct the mouth breathing habit and/or the open bite. Generally the child responds well to these early treatment procedures.”


Digit Sucking

Digit sucking or thumb sucking is a normal phenomenon till the age of 4. However, when the habit persists beyond the age of 4, it can cause development defects in your child. When your child sucks on his finger, there is a forward pressure on the upper teeth and a simultaneous inward pressure on the lower teeth. This causes a proclamation of the upper teeth. 

Says Dr Prithiviraj———Early intervention and counselling to the child can correct the finger sucking habit. A simple appliance called the “Palatal Crib” acts as a reminder to the child every time he puts his finger in the mouth.”


Tongue Thrust

Improper placement of the tongue during swallowing in a child can cause tongue thrust. Here, your child pushes the tongue between the upper and the lower front teeth during swallowing. This causes proclamation of the upper teeth and also speech problems— Improper pronunciation of certion syllables known as “lisping”. 

Dr Prithiviraj says——“Early detection of the tongue thrust and its correction with simple appliances can rectify the problem”.


Dr Prithiviraj concludes———“Since early detection of a bad oral habit is the key to treatment and correction of the facial growth of your child. Taking your child to an orthodontist at the age of 7 for his check up can help your orthodontist detect any growth discrepancies. Also a regular visit your dentist for a follow up goes a long way in preventive dental health care.”


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