Your Grand Children’s Mouths May Need Attention


Ask your grandkids about their teeth. Encourage good dental health with the normal questions about brushing, etc. Take it one step further by being observant of their smile and how their teeth meet. One more important thing to figure out is whether they are predominantly mouth breathers or nose breathers. Ask their parents if they snore or grind their teeth at night.

Oral health starts in the womb and right after birth as a person acquires proper swallowing habits. Nursing develops proper swallowing and nose breathing. In turn this leads to proper balance between the pressures of the tongue exerted in the right way to shape the dental arch and balance pressure from the lips and cheeks that draw the teeth inward. If your grandchildren’s teeth don’t meet in front and look crowded or are widely spaced and if they are in a cross bite relationship either in front or back, they most likely aren’t swallowing properly. A proper swallow is accomplished when the tongue goes to the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth and the teeth come together as the person swallows. If the tongue juts forward or out of the mouth as one swallows and does not go to the roof of the mouth, malocclusions develop. Also mouth breathing instead of nose breathing occurs more often and the child starts to tip their head forward with their chin up. You can take this much further than you might imagine when the swallow habit isn’t correct with things like obsessive-compulsive disorders or body-focused repetitive behaviors among things like nail biting, skin picking, Trihotillomania (hair pulling), etc. These things may not seem to be connected but an understanding or all that a correct swallowing habit does to stimulate the nervous system holds the answers. As a dentist, I use my training in orofacial myofunctional therapy to address these and other habits of the tongue, lips, and jaw.