Baby teeth are essential to the overall health and development of your child. The shape and structure of your child’s primary teeth will also determine how comfortable they will be able to eat, speak, and smile. Many parents have growing concerns if their child’s baby teeth start to come in crooked or gapped as they fear it’s a sign their permanent teeth will follow suit. Take relief in knowing that baby teeth gaps are common and can actually be a good thing in your child’s dental development.
Toddler Teeth Come In All Shapes, Sizes, and Slants
Just like your child, a toddler’s teeth can come in many different shapes and sizes too. While it may be alarming to see their smile start to form at a slant or crooked, there’s no direct link between crooked baby teeth and crooked permanent teeth. In fact, gaps between baby teeth are considered a good thing. As larger permanent teeth come in, they will have more room to fill the baby tooth’s place, which helps to keep permanent teeth straight.
Common Causes of Gapped Baby Teeth
Common causes of gapped baby teeth often include:
Natural Development: Teeth typically have spaces between them when they first come through. The arrival of the canine teeth often closes any gaps between a child’s teeth.
Missing Teeth: Some children are born missing one or two teeth (either baby or adult) in their jawbones, leaving behind a large gap or space.
Extra Teeth: Extra teeth in the jaw bone can prevent other teeth from coming through, which leaves a gap.
Small Teeth: Small teeth, especially baby teeth, often have spaces between them when they come through.
Large Jaw: If a child’s jaw is relatively large compared to the size of their teeth, it can leave gaps.
Lingual Fraenum: The fraenum attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. A severe tongue-tie is a condition caused by a restrictive fraenum that stops the tongue from poking out past the lips. The fraenum may cause a gap in the front teeth of the lower jaw.
Crooked Baby Teeth Don’t Lead To Crooked Permanent Teeth
If your baby’s teeth start growing in crooked, don’t panic quite yet. A baby’s jaw changes excessively in the early years of life, and permanent teeth tend to grow differently from baby teeth. Monitor your child’s behaviors by correcting any bad habits or problems to reduce any potential issues in the future. Thumb and finger sucking or tongue thrusting can cause an overbite or an underbite and other jaw issues. Addressing any harmful oral habits before adult teeth start to come in is always recommended.
Crowded Baby Teeth Could Mean Future Alignment Issues
If your baby’s teeth are growing crowded, this may be a sign that their permanent teeth will have crowding issues as well. Crowding often means that your baby’s jaw is not big enough to accommodate their teeth’ size. Of course, you will not know for sure if your child will have crowding issues until permanent teeth begin to fill in, but there are things to watch for and be aware of when your baby’s teeth start growing. Crowded teeth are more prone to cavities because the teeth overlap. Help your child maintain a healthy hygiene routine by helping them clean their teeth twice a day.
Gaps Between Permanent Teeth
A gap or space between two permanent teeth is called a diastema, and it’s most commonly seen between the upper front teeth. In many cases, gaps between the upper front teeth close without any dental intervention once all of the permanent teeth come through. If you’re concerned over large gaps, schedule a consultation appointment with an orthodontist.
When To Seek Professional Treatment
Hereditary factors like extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing, or small jaws can lead to a less-than-ideal smile. It’s essential to have your child’s teeth cleaned and examined by a dentist twice a year, in addition to seeing an orthodontist by the time your child is seven.
The sooner your child visits an orthodontist, the earlier they can begin preventative treatment. Once adult teeth have started to come in, Thomas Orthodontics can assess if early treatments are necessary to prevent significant future treatment. Call us today to schedule a consultation appointment where we can answer any questions regarding your child’s smile.