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Times of India
26 October 2010
Lucknow, India

Faulty eating habits are bad for the million dollar smile. They may cause shrinking of the jaw which leads to overlapping or crowding of teeth. As per estimates, nearly 20% children suffer with this abnormality. And figures from the dental faculty of the Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU) indicate that the problem is on the rise.

The topic was discussed in detail at the Career Institute of Dental Sciences here on Monday. Chief speaker, head of orthodontics department, Government Medical College, Nagpur, Dr Sandhya Jain said that crowding of teeth refers to a phenomenon in which the alignment of the teeth is disturbed due to an underdeveloped jaw. Various reasons may cause this, including hereditary factors, developmental reasons like injury inside the mother’s womb or accidents as the child is growing. She mainly blamed faulty eating habits for this.

‘‘Since early years of life, children become used to sticky food like chocolates, ice creams, cold drinks, fast food like chowmien, burgers containing items like cheese, mayonnaise and so on. These materials stick to the enamel and cause caries. Over years, caries causes infection and leads to loss of teeth and eventual shortening of jaw,’’ she said.

Her junior colleague Dr Gaurav Kulkarni added that by the time parents are able to make out that there is a problem, it is too late. The option in such cases is extraction of milk teeth. Now this gives immediate relief but makes a ground for cosmetic defect by spoiling the teeth. He said that if children having caries report at the dentist in the age group of 6–12 years, chances are that the shortening of jaw may be checked.

One such intervention could be functional appliance treatment which stimulates the growth of lower jaw (called mandible). Besides over indulgence in junk food, intake of fibrous substance has dropped which is to be equally blamed. ‘‘One marker could be the fact that a number of children aren’t aware that sugarcane is to be eaten. Even a lot of elders are more convenient with juices than fruits. As a result, the muscular exercise of the mouth does not take place,’’ he said.

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