Jul 13 2022

Why aren’t my child’s baby teeth straight, and should I be concerned?

young boy sitting on a bridge smiling with his baby teeth showing

Granted, virtually nothing matches the cuteness of a newborn’s toothless smile. Just wait until their first few teeth debut. Typically, a baby’s first tooth emerges between 6 months and a year. By age 3, most children have a complete smile consisting of 20 baby teeth.

But what can you do if your baby’s teeth are coming in crooked or gapped? Should you visit an orthodontist right away? Before you start daydreaming about your little one in braces, continue reading to learn what Dr. Matt has to say about misaligned baby teeth:

What causes crooked or gapped teeth?

People are rarely born with perfect teeth. There is a wide range of reasons why your child might have misalignment, such as:

Genetics

Children inherit their physical traits from both of their parents. So, it’s not uncommon for kids to have a set of jaws and teeth that don’t match up. For instance, a child may be born with a wide jaw from one parent and tiny teeth from another (or the other way around).

Oral Habits

Even in the womb, babies suck on their thumbs and fingers as a healthy way to self-soothe. However, prolonged oral sucking habits and extended pacifier use exert unnecessary pressure on the palate and upper front teeth. Consequently, the upper arch might narrow, or the front teeth might protrude, leading to several bite issues, including open bite and crossbite.

Myofunctional Disorders

Does your child sleep with their mouth open? Myofunctional (muscle function) disorders, like mouth breathing and tongue thrust, can inhibit facial development. Although muscle-based, myofunctional disorders can damage dental development and lead to malocclusion (bad bite) or crooked teeth.

Losing Baby Teeth Too Early

While shedding baby teeth is a natural part of growing up, premature loss of baby teeth can lead to negative consequences. Whether your child has lost a tooth from injury or decay, the neighboring teeth tend to shift into the space where the missing tooth once was.

Not only can this cause crooked teeth, but it can also obstruct the path needed for an adult tooth to come in straight (or at all). Thus, presenting the issue of misaligned permanent teeth as well.

Abnormal Amount of Teeth

Albeit rare, sometimes extra or inadequate teeth cause crowding, spacing issues, and general misalignment.

Does it matter if your child’s baby teeth are crooked or gapped?

Generally, it doesn’t matter if your child’s teeth don’t come in perfectly. Plus, crooked or gapped baby teeth don’t automatically translate as a misaligned adult smile.

Throughout childhood, your kid will go through changes—and the most significant changes in their jaw and mouth happen between the ages of 3 and 6. These natural changes will alter the position of their baby teeth, and your little one’s crowding might disappear as your child’s jaw widens.

Surprisingly, gaps between baby teeth can be positive. Permanent teeth are more sizeable and need more space to erupt properly. So, gaps help give permanent teeth extra space, so they don’t remain trapped beneath the gums.

Nevertheless, if you’re worried about your child’s baby teeth, you should schedule a dental visit with Dr. Matt at Smiles Dentistry for Kids. Call (913) 685-9990 or message us online to schedule a children’s dentistry appointment in Overland Park, KS.

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