Early orthodontic treatment and evaluations for children can help correct the developmental issues with their teeth and jaw. When a child is about 7, he or she should have their teeth checked to see how they work together. If the child’s teeth or bite needs treatment, it may be beneficial to get an early start. Treatment that begins while a child is growing may deliver results that cannot be achieved once the patient has completed growing.
Common signs that may indicate your child needs to see an orthodontist
The orthodontists at JR Dental & Associates can evaluate your child for any of the following problems:
- Crowded, misplaced or crooked teeth
- Difficulty with chewing, eating and biting
- Missing or extra teeth
- Protruding teeth
- Unatural spaces between teeth
- Teeth and jaws that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
- Underbite, overbite or crossbite
- Snoring or signs of sleep apnea at night
- Breathing through the mouth more than the nose
- Late or an early loss of baby teeth
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Jaws that pop or click when opening and closing
- Teeth that do not come together at all or come together abnormally
Benefits of orthodontic treatment
When your child is around 7 years old, you should take them to be evaluated by an orthodontist. Seeking treatment at the right time can result in fewer complications and a positive outcome. Here are a few benefits:
Reduces the risk of damage to teeth
If your child has protruding teeth, early orthodontic treatment can reduce the risk of trauma to their teeth during physical activities or if your child suffers from facial trauma.
Improves facial growth symmetry
Early orthodontic evaluations can reveal a lot about your child’s facial structure. If your orthodontist identifies signs of facial growth symmetry, which if left uncorrected, can lead to a long-term, complicated issue, they will recommend orthopedic growth modification treatments. These easy and simple treatments can treat facial growth, jaw position, and jaw size. These procedures can even prevent the need for jaw surgery in the future.
Identifies bite problems or severe crowding
By seeking early orthodontic treatment, children can avoid having their teeth extracted. If bite problems or severe overcrowding is discovered, your orthodontist can use expansion tools to create adequate space for permanent teeth to grow and develop. Additionally, it can prevent permanent teeth from becoming impacted later. In return, this helps decrease the treatment duration and complexity later.
Prevents thumb and finger sucking habits
Children who suck their thumb or finger after the age of 6 have an increased chance of developing issues with their teeth and jaw. Early orthodontic treatment can help stop the habit.
Jaw development can have a significant impact on your child’s airway. Your child might need early orthodontic treatment if they snore at night, exhibit signs of sleep apnea or breathe through their mouth. Early orthopedic intervention can improve their overall health and quality of sleep, which in return can improve their performance in school, both in academics and athletics.
Improves self- confidence
Crowded, misplaced, crooked teeth, and severe bite problems can affect your child’s confidence and self-perception. Early orthodontic treatment can help boost their confidence level, allowing them to smile without being conscious.
Examples of early orthodontic treatments for children
Your orthodontist may recommend one of the following treatments for your child, depending on the issue that requires correction:
Expanders help increase the width of the upper jaw. This improves the bite and provides more space for developing teeth to grow. Your orthodontist can opt for either a fixed or removable expansion appliance for your child.
Functional orthopedic appliances
Functional orthopedic appliances can treat prominent or protruding upper front teeth. This treatment option reduces the risk of injury or trauma to the teeth. Your orthodontist can either use a removable appliance or a functional orthopedic appliance. A functional orthopedic appliance will use your child’s normal growth potential to urge the lower jaw to grow in its usual direction. In return, this will decrease the relative protrusion of teeth in the top front.
Your child can get partial braces, which are outfitted on 4 teeth in the front and 2 teeth at the back. Your child’s orthodontist will upgrade them to metal wire later. Your child needs to be 10-years-old to qualify for this early orthodontic treatment.
Habit correction appliances
If your child sucks their thumb or fingers the orthodontist will recommend your child get habit correction appliance. Some benefits of habit appliances include reducing the habit of thumb, finger, and pacifier sucking and improving the health, function, and position of your child’s teeth. The device also reduces the risk of complications, such as modified facial appearance and misaligned teeth.
Removable plates are a hard, plastic device, which the orthodontist fits around your child’s top teeth or bottom teeth and sometimes, both. They use springs and wires to align the teeth, pushing them in the correct position, or to hold the teeth in place as your child develops permanent teeth. Your child can remove the plate to eat food and clean it.
Baby teeth usually stay in place until the permanent tooth underneath pushes them out and takes their place. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, the adjacent teeth are more likely to tilt or drift into the empty space and create limited space in the jaw for the permanent tooth to erupt. If left untreated, the permanent tooth can come in crowded or be blocked from erupting. A space maintainer works by keeping open the empty space left by the lost tooth. Usually made of metal, this temporary, custom-fitted appliance steadies the remaining teeth and prevents movement until the permanent tooth takes its natural position in the jaw.
Early orthodontic treatment can prevent a host of problems that your child can experience as they grow older. Correcting them now will benefit their smile later.