As your child grows and develops, there are several things you have to monitor, and one of them is keeping an eye out for their orthodontic needs. Early orthodontic intervention can help your child’s teeth develop properly by treating common developmental needs at an early age.
Orthodontics For Children
The Canadian Association of Orthodontics recommends that children should see an orthodontic specialist at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age seven. Though you may not notice any significant issues, a certified orthodontist can identify a potential problem long before you pick up on the signs. Orthodontic issues are easier to correct if detected early and will avoid more serious corrections later in life.
Usually, by age seven, the first permanent adult molars have erupted and the baby teeth have started to fall out. This is when the front and the back of the adult bite has been stabilized, and when an orthodontist can examine to determine if orthodontic treatment is needed. Early orthodontic treatments are typically started at a time when your child’s bones are still soft in comparison to a healthy adult’s. This provides timely detection of problems and also creates great opportunities for more effective treatment.
Next, we’ll describe some warning signs which indicate that your child may need to see an orthodontic specialist.
- A Noticeable Overbite, Underbite, or Crossbite
If your child has a noticeable overbite, underbite, or crossbite, it’s important to consult with an orthodontist. Jaw misalignment is a condition where your child’s teeth don’t line up properly. Incorrect jaw positioning is common and can become progressively worse if not diagnosed and treated early on in your child's life.
Overcrowding of permanent teeth can result in future dental problems. Adult teeth that are coming in crooked or crowded should be addressed right away so that there will be enough room for more adult teeth as your child grows. Additionally, overcrowded teeth are more difficult to clean and could potentially result in future cavities, tooth decay, or even gum disease.
- Oral Behaviours
It’s important to pay attention to your child’s oral behaviours. Thumb or finger-sucking, tongue-thrusting, trouble biting or chewing, or even speech impediments, are all indicators that your child may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment. When these habits continue for an extended period, they can lead to major dental problems later in life.
- Breathing Issues
A telltale sign that your child might need orthodontic treatment is mouth-breathing. If your child consistently breaths with their mouth open, it can affect the growth of their teeth. This has everything to do with the openness of the airways and the width of the jaw. When the jaw is more narrow, the airways are blocked or obstructed, making it more difficult to breathe through the nose.
- Smile Shame
If your child hides their smile and feels too self-conscious to show their teeth, it could be a sign to begin orthodontic treatment. Children living with crowded, crooked, or gapped teeth, or a visibly poor bite, could be dealing with low self-esteem issues. Orthodontic treatment can provide children with the confidence they require to grow and thrive.
Parents will always want what is best for their children so it’s important to consistently encourage good oral health and dental habits. Helping your children develop a healthy oral hygiene routine should start as soon as the teeth develop. The only true way to determine if your child may need orthodontic treatment is through a consultation with a certified orthodontist. If your child is experiencing any of the warning signs discussed above, schedule an appointment with an orthodontist so they can offer an opportunity to ensure that these young patients will develop the smiles they deserve.