Are you concerned about your child's teeth but are not sure when the right time is to seek professional help? Many parents are unaware that The Canadian Association of Orthodontics recommends that every child see an orthodontic specialist no later than age seven. As parents, you want only the best for your child. And their health, including proper oral health, should be a top priority.
Many orthodontic problems are more accessible to correct in children if detected early rather than waiting until jaw growth has slowed. In some cases, a child could be visiting an orthodontic specialist as young as two or three years old. Early treatment allows an orthodontist to prevent or correct potentially serious dental issues before they negatively impact your child's oral health and function. Early orthodontic treatment may help your child avoid more invasive treatment options later and will provide them with proper oral health for life.
This article will outline some common orthodontic problems and signs that may indicate the need for early intervention.
Crowding occurs when there is not enough space for teeth to develop normally in the mouth. Overcrowding can be caused by the teeth being too big or the jaws being too small. Overcrowding of permanent teeth can result in future dental problems if not treated at an early stage. Many benefits are associated with correcting misaligned teeth, including more effective oral hygiene practices, reduced risk of decay, improved digestion, chewing, speaking, and most importantly, better overall health.
Treating bite issues at a young age is crucial for proper jaw development. A noticeable underbite, overbite, or crossbite should be examined early by an orthodontist. Jaw misalignment is a condition where the teeth don't line up correctly when the mouth is closed. Incorrect jaw positioning is typical and can worsen if not diagnosed and treated at a young age. It can also directly affect chewing.
Many children have gaps between their teeth at a young age, and most cases will eventually close up once the permanent teeth begin to erupt, but its essential to have an orthodontist evaluate and assess the situation. Excessive space between the teeth can occur when the teeth are too small for the size of the jaws. In this case, orthodontic treatment, such as braces, is used to treat the condition.
Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth
The age at which children lose their baby teeth varies, but there are potential issues to keep in mind. If baby teeth do not fall out in the correct order, or if a baby tooth is not replaced within a few months by a permanent tooth, orthodontic intervention could be needed. Baby teeth preserve space for adult teeth until they are ready to erupt. If baby teeth fall out too early, it can cause crowding of the underlying adult teeth. On the other hand, baby teeth may not fall out
until later in life. In this situation, an orthodontist should examine and evaluate the case with a series of X-rays.
Dental issues can cause speech difficulties in children. When we speak, the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw must work together. Since children begin speaking around the same time teeth develop and erupt, proper oral care becomes essential for good speech development. Malocclusion (a bad bite), tongue-tie, improper jaw structure, overcrowding, and overall tooth appearance can impact speech. A thorough examination can help determine the following steps, which may include orthodontic treatment.
Children who breathe through the mouth rather than the nose are typical candidates for orthodontic treatment. Consistently breathing with the mouth open can affect the development and growth of permanent teeth. Breathing issues are directly related to the width of the jaw and the openness of the airway. When the jaw is narrow, the airways can become obstructed, making it more challenging to breathe through the nose.
Certain oral behaviours develop in children at a very young age. For example, thumb sucking or a pacifier beyond three can cause future permanent teeth to develop crookedly. When oral habits continue for an extended time, they can lead to future major dental issues.
What are the benefits of early intervention?
There are many benefits associated with early orthodontic intervention in children. The longer a childs teeth are untreated, the more damage that could occur. Diagnosed dental problems at a young age can result in shorter treatment times, provide more space for teeth to develop, improve facial symmetry, minimize the need for potential extractions, and guide jaw growth and development.
In summary, the longer a childs teeth are left without proper treatment, the more damage could occur. Treatment times may be prolonged and more costly as well. Now that you hopefully understand the importance of early intervention more clearly, be sure to visit your dentist with your child for an orthodontic evaluation before the age of seven. Your child will thank you later in life when they are proud to show off their straight set of pearly whites.