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Some Straight Answers About Crooked Teeth

Do you think you know all the facts? Brace yourself for a surprise.

1. Improved appearance is the main reason to have crooked or misaligned teeth straightened.

2. Your child should have a checkup with an orthodontist by age 7.

3. Braces can trigger jaw problems known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

4. Thumb-sucking can lead to the need for braces.


1. False. Straight, properly aligned teeth tend to work better and can be less prone to decay, gum disease and possibly tooth loss, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Crowded teeth can be hard to keep clean, and a poorly aligned bite can lead to abnormal wear and tear on teeth. Good teeth make it easier to bite, chew, and eat a variety of foods-which also results in a healthier mouth.

2. True. Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth even if some of the baby teeth are still present. If there is a problem, the orthodontist will probably recommend regular checkups to monitor it until your child is old enough for treatment. Usually, that's between ages 8 and 14. So, children should have an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7.

3. False. Research disputes the belief that braces or a bad bite trigger TMD, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (part of the National Institutes of Health).

4. True. Thumb-sucking can interfere with the growth and alignment of teeth and change the shape of the roof of the mouth, according to the ADA. A pacifier can cause similar problems. The ADA suggests weaning your infant from a pacifier and/or thumb by age 2.


"Braces." Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.

"TMJ Disorders." National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health. Accessed 2013.

"Thumbsucking." Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. Accessed 2013.

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