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When is Orthodontic Work needed?

How to reduce the likelihood of Orthodontic treatment

It seems that braces are the new must have accessory – but do all those children really need them? Find out what behaviours you need to encourage in your children to minimise some reasons for requiring orthodontic treatment.

Most orthodontic work is recommended because of problems with the way the jaw and teeth meet. This is called ‘malocclusion’ which means a ‘bad bite’. Most frequently the cause is inherited however there are acquired malocclusions ie problems that have occurred because of an accident or a particular behaviour.

The most common are outlined below.



Accidents are by definition an unexpected an unintentional incident. In the course of our daily life it is of course impossible to take precautions against every potential accident however there are times when precautions are advisable. The most common is during contact sport when a mouth guard must be worn. You can purchase mouth guards from your local sports shop or pharmacy. They come in a range of sizes and need to be moulded to your child’s mouth prior to use. Your Lumino dentist is also able to provide you with a custom mouth guard.

Finger or thumb sucking

Sucking on a finger(s) or thumb is an extremely common habit and is a normal soothing reflex for children. Many children outgrow the habit but for those who don’t, tooth damage may occur.

The two most important factors in determining if the sucking is likely to cause a problem are age and intensity. It is commonly thought that finger or thumb sucking will not harm baby teeth unless the child is a frequent and intense sucker in which case the habit could cause the shape of the mouth and hence the location of the teeth to be affected.

Thumb or finger sucking after the arrival of permanent teeth (most commonly around 6 years old) may also result in abnormal alignment of teeth, most frequently ‘buck teeth’ where the two upper front teeth protrude. 

If you are concerned about your child’s finger or thumb sucking habit, chat to your local Lumino oral health professional.


Premature loss of baby teeth or permanent teeth through poor oral hygiene

More than 30,000 New Zealand children have rotten teeth removed each year under local anaesthetic. While many of these are baby or milk teeth sadly many are also their permanent teeth. Although baby teeth are not permanent they are however very important. Not only are the baby teeth important for eating and speaking, they also serve as ‘place holders’ for the adult teeth. If the baby teeth are removed early, crooked and damaged adult teeth requiring may result.  Good oral hygiene is therefore imperative. 

Damaging teeth

Teeth are not designed for prying open knots, opening drinks and bags of chips, or cutting string. Nor are they designed to crunch ice. Chipped, weakened or even broken teeth can result and may require orthodontic treatment.