There is often some debate about when a child should see an orthodontist. While most of us are familiar with orthodontic treatment for teenagers, it is not uncommon for a child as young as six to have an orthodontic evaluation.
Why Do Children Need to Visit an Orthodontist?
Factors that may affect tooth alignment include:
- Thumb sucking that has affected proper alignment
- Permanent teeth that have erupted awkwardly
- Overbite, underbite, and crossbite
When your dentist identifies potential problems in the mouth, they will likely recommend early treatment to resolve the orthodontic issue.
The Effects of Untreated Teeth Misalignment
Early intervention orthodontics can help to identify and address alignment issues that may pose a greater problem in the future. When the teeth and jaws are misaligned, the following symptoms can occur:
- Problems chewing food properly due to the misalignment of the teeth
- Bad habits such as mouth breathing, which may cause respiratory conditions
- Changes to the natural structure of the face
- Damaged and chipped teeth due to excessive wear and tear
- Jaw pain such as temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)
The Benefits of Early Orthodontics for Kids
Early intervention orthodontics is ideal for young children because of the ability to mould the malleable skeletal structures of the jaw that continue to develop and grow. By changing how the jaw develops at this early stage, you can avoid the need for other, more intensive interventions in later life.
When To Visit Your Dentist for Orthodontic Treatment
It is time to see the orthodontist if your child experiences any of the following issues:
- Early, late or irregular tooth loss
- Any trouble chewing or biting food
- Protruding teeth at the front of the mouth
- Any abnormal positioning of the teeth, such as an underbite or overbite
- Crooked teeth in the mouth
- Crowding of the teeth
Types of Early Orthodontic Treatment
Early intervention is known as Phase 1 orthodontic treatment. Depending on the type of orthodontic issue your child is suffering from, your dentist will employ one of many treatment options, including palatial expansion, braces or Invisalign first. This first phase of treatment can last up to nine months, after which your dentist will assess whether Phase 2 treatment is necessary.
Establish Good Dental Habits at Home
While regular appointments with your dentist are crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, it is vital to instill good dental habits at home.
- Teach your kids to brush their teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
- Introduce flossing between the ages of two and six or when the teeth start to fit together closely.
- Inspect your child’s teeth regularly to assess for abnormalities, and book an appointment with the dentist if you notice any problems.
- Arrange for a routine dental exam once or twice a year to maintain your child’s oral health.
At Design Dentistry, we have extensive experience in early orthodontic treatment. If you are concerned about your child’s teeth and think they may need orthodontics, call us to book an appointment.
Schedule a Meet-and-Greet
Learn more about our office, staff, and dentists. A meet-and-greet is perfect for those families looking for their next dental clinic.