The LaserKids dental app was launched recently and it has a very exciting feature in it, which is a first for NZ. It allows parents to upload photos of their child's teeth and get a free initial assessment from Dr Alfonso Vargas of LaserKids dental in Auckland, New Zealand. He will tell you what might be going on in terms of alignment, overcrowding or other issues regarding jaw, palate and tooth formation based on what he sees in the photos. It's super easy to use and the app gives you a couple of sample photos to show what kind of photos to upload. Story Shop created the video below which introduces this cool feature.
While preparing for our shoot Dr Alfonso mentioned that "Traditionally dentists are taught to wait for all the permanent teeth to appear in the oral cavity before anything can be done".
However after treating hundreds of children and questioning why so many present with issues of over-crowding, cross-bite, narrow-jaw etc he has concluded "In many cases there are things we can do to change the oral habits that lead to these issues in the first place". Here are some of the areas he says that we can go wrong;
1) Thumb or Lip sucking - When a child puts a finger or thumb into their mouth and starts sucking the lips and cheek muscles exert around 150-250grams of constant pressure on the jaws causing them to alter their normal growth pattern
2) Mouth breathing - When a child mouth breathes as opposed to nose breathing it changes the positon of the tongue and removes the support it normally gives to the upper jaw. During development this may cause narrow-jaw and crowding of teeth. Constant mouth breathing also alters the pH of our saliva reducing its anti-bacterial effect leading to increased risk of tooth decay.
3)Tongue function and resting position - Kids with tongue restrictions like tongue-tie or a habit called reverse-swallowing are at risk of problems. We all swallow about 2000-3000 times a day creating about 500gm of pressure against the roof of our mouths, this helps to develop the upper dental arch reducing the chances of narrow-jaw and crowded teeth. Anything the restricts our normal swallowing patterns is not going to be ideal.
It was fascinating speaking to Dr Alfonso about the above issues. The App is great and very worthwhile. It can be downloaded from the following links: