Your child’s orofacial and dental development starts well before birth. In the Whole Health approach, a partnership between parents and a doctor of holistic mouth is encouraged, with the following ideals in mind:
- Sound and sensible nutrition for 6 to12 months.
- A dental checkup to ensure healthy teeth and sound gums for the mom-to-be.
- A Holistic Mouth Checkup to rule out pinched airway and more.
Immediately After Birth
- Breastfeeding – Nature’s way for a baby to develop a wide upper jaw.
- Check for tongue-tie and upper lip-tie if breasts latch is problematic.
- Check for cranial distortion from birth trauma, and seek a cranial osteopathic doctor or craniosacral therapist if crying, irritability, colic, and/or spit-up persist.
First 18 Months
- After about a year of breastfeeding, follow Baby Led Weaning: http://www.babyledweaning.com.
- During weaning, watch for signs of allergies, ear infections, stuffy nose, mouth breathing, and dry lips.
- For nutritional information to grow good teeth and faces, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation: http://www.wapf.org.
- Once your child can walk and run, watch for a slouched posture with forward head, and encourage active play using all four limbs rather than just the two thumbs.
Dental Care and Holistic Mouth Checkups
- Brush teeth as soon as they come into mouth to develop this healthy habit.
- Take your child to a family or pediatric dentist once their molars start to come in.
- A positive first impression can last a life time. A helpful way to visit the dentist for the first time is as a guest during a parent’s or older sibling’s checkup/cleaning.Parents are responsible for children’s tooth brushing and flossing until 9 or 10 years old.
- Space among front teeth are desirable in baby teeth, except in cases of tongue thrust or lip-tie.
- Look for facial symmetry, and watch for the red flags listed below.
Red Flags of Impaired Mouth Development in Children
____ Allergies, frequent colds, inflamed tonsils, headaches
____ Earaches, recurrent ear infections, or stuffiness
____ Accidents, head trauma, broken nose, falls, scars from stitches
____ Attention deficit or hyperactivity
____ Tiredness, low energy, socially withdrawn
____ Forward head (ear hole ahead of shoulder point in profile), slumped posture
____ Uneven ears or eyes
____ Narrow nostrils
____ Small (weak) chin
____ Dry or parched lips, lack of lip seal
____ Deep chin cleft
____ “Gummy” smile
____ Overly long “horse” face or overly flat “bulldog” midface
____ Teeth grinding
____ Thumb sucking
____ Open bite (space between upper and lower front teeth for thumb or tongue)
____ Crowded or crooked (rotated or turned) front teeth
____ Deep bite (upper front teeth overlaps more than half of lower front teeth)
____ Cross bite (any lower front or back tooth/teeth)
____ Mismatched upper and lower dental mid-lines
____ Jaw opening-closing zig-zagging or deviated instead of straight/smooth
Lifelong Benefits of an Early Holistic Mouth Checkup
- A Holistic Mouth Checkup should be done for the mother-to-be long before conception, and right after birth for the newborn if there is any breastfeeding difficulty. In normal cases, dentist who qualifies as a Holistic Mouth Doctor will check all the signs and symptoms of impaired mouth the first time a child comes in as a new patient – no later than age 2 – and every 6 months thereafter.
- The age of 7 or 8 is a good time for a full evaluation including preferably a 3D CT Scan and cephalometric analysis of the craniofacial skeleton. This allows orthopedic correction while the bones are still soft and flexible.
- Holistic Mouth Checkups, in collaboration with integrative health professionals and consistent with Whole Health principles, can help facilitate the development of Holistic Mouth to grow children into fully-potentiated adults. The benefits of a Holistic Mouth can include
- Avoiding extraction of permanent teeth or jaw surgery in many cases.
- Growing into full potential academically, athletically, and socially.
- Mitigation of risks for snoring, sleep apnea, teeth grinding, chronic pain and fatigue, and more.
- Living a healthy and enjoyable life with far fewer health complications.
- Feeling and looking like a winner!