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The childish smile

When to go to a professional to reeducate your little one's orofacial system

There are bad habits that alter the normal position of children's teeth, such as thumb sucking, lip biting, nail biting or bruxism, which consists of involuntarily squeezing or grinding dental structures. One of the most frequent problems is atypical swallowing, which occurs when the tongue, lips or the musculature that is related to or is inside the mouth push, support or interfere, pressing the teeth, "and it can be caused by habit of sucking their thumb or using a pacifier beyond the age of two”, points out the dentist Ana María Fernández.

Mouth or oral breathing is also frequent, which, according to Fernández, is the tendency to deform the palate, so that the tongue falls forward, modifying the shape of the dental arches and the position of the teeth. An alteration that is observed in children who are with their mouths open when watching television, catch colds more frequently than usual and have snoring when sleeping. “In all these cases, it is necessary to correct the dental position, eliminating these dysfunctions and bad habits”, emphasizes the specialist.

Fernández assures that, to achieve this, coordination between the orthodontist, who treats anomalies of the dentomaxillofacial structures (the teeth and their bony attachments, and the jaw bones) and the speech therapist, who is in charge of re-educating the orofacial system, is essential , that is, the organs and components that carry out correct breathing, swallowing, chewing, articulation and phonation.

"All dysfunctional swallowing should be reviewed by the orthodontist despite the fact that there is a speech therapy treatment, just as an orthodontic treatment to correct dysfunctional swallowing must be accompanied by a speech therapy intervention to eradicate this bad habit or train the swallowing function", he points out.


The periodicity and duration of the treatment varies depending on the predisposition and the anatomical and functional evolution of each patient: parents play a very important role in the therapy of children, since they are in charge of helping and correcting them when they are doing the exercises in House. Asked about what habits parents can instill in their children from an early age to prevent swallowing or breathing problems, Fernández recommends “maintaining good nasal hygiene; give them a good diet appropriate to their age with semi-solid and solid liquids; make good use of the pacifier and remove it on time and use appropriate teats, according to age, for the bottle and also for the pacifier”.


If we observe any symptoms that indicate a possible swallowing or breathing disorder, it is advisable to go to a speech therapist, so that they can do a preventive or interceptive treatment, if necessary, warns Fernández, who recommends carrying out this simple test at 4 or 5 years of age, to make sure everything is going well. Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions about your son or daughter:

1.- Has the father or mother had any dental alteration?

2.- Did the appearance of the teeth present any problem?

3.- Has there been a blow or fall that could cause a dental problem?

4.- Is there a feeding problem?

5.- When you are at rest, do you breathe with your mouth open?

6.- Do you close your mouth when you eat to chew and swallow food?

7.- Is your breathing at night very strong or sonorous?

8.- Did you use the pacifier for a long time?

9- When you are eating do you see your tongue pushing your teeth?

10.- Do your teeth close properly without difficulty?

11.- Do you have drooling control?

12.- Are there any traces of food after swallowing?

13.- Do you wear or should you wear braces?

14.- Is it a child who has sucked his thumb, lips, cheeks or objects...?

15.- Are your teeth crowded?

If you answer more than seven questions with a “YES”, you should go to a speech therapist or an orthodontist, Fernandez advises.

NOTE: Swallowing or breathing disorders can occur from birth.

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