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Malocclusion and Orthodontics (cont.)

Prevention

You can take steps to prevent tooth loss, which can lead to malocclusion.

  • Use a mouth guard when playing sports.
  • Prevent tooth decay by practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental cleanings. For more information, see the topic Basic Dental Care.
  • Avoid putting a baby or toddler to bed with a bottle. The sugars in the liquid can cause tooth decay.
  • See your dentist right away (within 2 hours) if you lose a tooth unexpectedly.

Early dental visits are needed for good preventive dental care. And it can help your child feel more comfortable at the dentist's office over time.

The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be first checked for developing malocclusion between the ages of 2 and 6.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an orthodontic screening by age 7. A pediatric dentist may refer a child to an orthodontist when a dental evaluation suggests the need for orthodontic treatment.

Home Treatment

During orthodontic treatment for malocclusion, it's still important to take good care of teeth at home.

Your orthodontist will give you instructions on caring for your teeth during treatment. These may include:

  • Avoiding sticky and hard foods, such as gum, taffy, and nuts.
  • Taking vitamins with fluoride.
  • Using a retainerClick here to see an illustration.—a piece of molded plastic and wire (orthodontic appliance) worn in the mouth to hold the teeth in place after orthodontic treatment—as often and as long as recommended.
  • Carefully brush your teeth after meals and snacks.

If your child has crooked or protruding teeth from an oral habit such as thumb-sucking, his or her teeth may begin to return to normal position when the habit stops. You can help your child stop an oral habit. For more information, see the topic Thumb-Sucking.

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