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What You May Not Know About Child Growth and Development

Why is it that some of us have crooked teeth and need braces and some don’t?
Is it just plain old luck? Or is there more to it? As with most human health conditions, half of the problem is genetic. But what is the other half of the story?

Child Growth and Development: From the Beginning

It all begins at birth. How we travel through the birth canal can contribute to asymmetries in our facial structures. For example, forceps and vacuum delivery babies have a higher incidence of jaw problems). Breast fed babies develop better not just because they benefit from the antibodies in the breast milk but also because it takes a lot more effort to be fed from the breast than from a bottle.

This effort is instrumental in developing the muscles that control mastication or chewing. Later on, these muscles are going to promote proper bone growth which will, in turn, provide sufficient room for your teeth. Conversely, babies who have a tough time nursing or breathing will develop narrow arches (jaw bone) and may need expansion appliances or permanent teeth removed in order to be able to complete orthodontia.

Other Development Concerns

Food and environmental allergies are the primary reasons why otherwise healthy children do not develop proper airways. They may even begin to snore early on in life. The danger is that snoring doesn’t just create a sleepy child who may have a difficult time concentrating at school. (Often wrongfully diagnosed as ADD). It also allows for changes in the growth and development of the cardiovascular system.

If the snoring continues, it may also be associated with sleep apnea which is when the child simply stops breathing while sleeping. It’s important therefore to eliminate any obstructions such as tonsils and adenoids. Tonsils are visible to either side of tongue. Adenoids, on the other hand, are higher than the tonsils behind the nasal cavity and therefore only visible with a scope or x ray.

Tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies can be risky for anyone- children and adults because they involve such a vital, well-vascularized area of the throat. However, tonsil removal may be a healthier choice, especially after the child is 4 years old. By that age, the bone marrow and spleen take over the function of manufacturing white blood cells so that tonsils and adenoids become pretty much obsolete. Not only can these procedures be expensive, but health insurance coverage is also very poor which may discourage physicians from prescribing them.

Furthermore, not all physicians or dentists have an appreciation for the importance of the airways in a growing child.Young patients need to be screened for snoring and tongue thrusting disorders. We have been treating these disorders for 17 years at Laraway Family Dentistry without the use of painful prong-like appliances.

Immune System Issues

Another contributor may be the diet and sterile-like environment we insist on as parents.We all know how harmful processed sugars can be and we’re aware of their contribution to the widespread epidemic of diabetes. But do we realize that today’s wheat products have been genetically modified to make us crave them? Also, the soft diet does not exercise the right muscles and therefore does not allow for proper maturation of all structures involved in chewing, breathing, and talking. Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness, however, in the process of protecting our children from disease, we have created immune systems which are incapable of supporting themselves.

What You Can Do for Your Children

So what can you as parents do to safeguard your children from imbalances in development? A proper diet and adequate exercise are a great foundation, but you still may not catch every issue that lies under the surface. Bring your child over to our office for a free consultation and evaluation. We would love to see you and help your child now as they grow and their bodies are developing. Not only that, but we have a sea of information on child growth and development that we’d love to share with you to keep your children healthy and strong.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment for you or your children, Contact Us.