Growth and development of the jaws and face is a part of the overall growth of an individual. But with time and over generations, there have been changes in the size of our jaws and the development and eruption patterns of the teeth.
Senior Pedodontist and practicing dentist Dr Premila Naidu says——“The growth and development of a childs teeth and jaws are interdependent. Generally, a child has all his milk teeth in the mouth by 3 years of age. The milk teeth begin to fall off by the time the child is 6 years old. The new adult teeth take their place. And this process goes on till the child is 12 years old. This is the “mixed dentition” phase. These six years are a very dynamic phase, when a lot of jaw growth is also happening.”
Is gaps in the baby teeth good?
Gaps in the baby teeth is a good sign. It’s normal and is required to make space for the much wider adult teeth. The growing jaw accommodates the erupting adult teeth, but the gaps in milk teeth help in the better alignment of adult teeth. Keeping the milk teeth in place till the adult teeth erupt therefore becomes important. If the baby teeth is damaged beyond repair due to decay or tooth pain and has to be removed, then the “Space Maintainer Appliance” is given to the child. This appliance helps retain the space required for the adult teeth.
What are self correcting conditions in my child?
Says Dr Premila——“Sometimes the adult teeth come out before the milk teeth falls off, especially in the lower front part. That’s when you can see two layers of teeth. This is called “shark teeth”. Parents generally have two concerns at this point. One if the milk teeth have to be removed and two if the adult teeth would align itself. Although the adult teeth come from the inside, they push the milk teeth and come into alignment eventually. Another self correcting condition is with the upper front teeth. When the upper front teeth erupt, there tends to be a gap between the teeth. This gap closes when the canine teeth erupt. So both these conditions wound not require intervention.
What is the reason for a deviation from normal jaw growth in children?
The growth happens in the upper jaw first and then the lower jaw. In the normal jaw growth, the upper teeth lie outside of the lower teeth with a 1 mm distance. This is class 1 malocclusion.
Class 3 malocclusion: Sometimes, the lower jaw grows faster than the upper jaw leading to a class 3 malocclusion. This has to be corrected as soon as the growth abnormality is detected.
Class 2 malocclusion: Other times the upper jaw grows to more than 3-4mm away from the lower teeth and this is a class 2 malocclusion..This condition has to be corrected at the earliest.
Smaller jaw size: The jaw size can be smaller to accommodate the adult teeth. This can be seen as crowding of teeth in the child’s mouth. At such times your dentist can give the child a jaw expansion appliance to encourage jaw growth to let the teeth come into alignment.
Cross-Bite: The normal alignment of teeth is the upper teeth being ahead of the lower teeth. When even one of the upper teeth comes behind the lower teeth, it is a cross-bite condition. This has to be corrected immediately.
Jaw length-tooth material discrepancy: This is when your child inherits the jaw size from one parent and the tooth size from the other parent, A malocclusion can occur.
Deletrious oral habits like mouth breathing, thumb sucking and tongue thrusting can be the causes of deviated jaw growth.
Genetics can also play a role.
Dr Premila concludes—–“Early intervention helps in correcting deviated jaw growth patterns in your child. Early detection of these conditions is important. I cannot emphasise more on getting your child early on for routine dental check-ups. Apart from treating tooth decay, performing non-invasive preventive procedures and guiding you in the correct brushing methods, the jaw growth patterns can also be monitored.”