As parents, it can be difficult to determine not only whether your children should see an orthodontist, but also when it would be the best time for their first visit.
Early Orthodontic Screening
Dental professionals believe that one of the keys to maintaining a lifetime of good smiles is to have an orthodontic screening for every child with permanent teeth, usually around age seven. Why so early? Early monitoring by an orthodontist can help identify and address issues that may become problematic later on. This is sometimes called “preventive treatment,” which is a fancy way of saying early treatment or intervention. Some of the benefits of this are:
.A better prognosis of how permanent teeth will develop.
.The ability to correct bad habits that can often be the cause of developmental problems.
.Correcting biting problems such as open bites, cross bites or deep bites
.Reducing the risk of damaging any protruding teeth.
.The ability to improve your child’s appearance.
.Alleviation of future, possibly invasive tooth correction
.To increase your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
Early diagnosis and monitoring will give your orthodontist the opportunity to create straight, well-aligned bone at a time when it is easier to shape your child’s bone structure. But how do you decide which teeth are normal but defective and which ones really need professional treatment?
Determining What Is Normal and What Is Not
1.Regular dentist visits from an early age
The best way to determine if your children will need braces is to take them to the dentist regularly. All children should have their first visit to the dentist at about two years old and their first consultation with an orthodontist at about seven years old.
You’ll usually be able to tell between the ages of five and eight if your child’s teeth are coming out normally or are showing early signs of common tooth or jaw misalignment. In this age range, children will have both some permanent teeth and some milk teeth. Usually upper and lower incisors and molars. However, most parents cannot determine what is normal and what is not, so regular dental checkups are still important at this age.
2.Be aware of crowding and abnormal tooth spacing
Some types of orthodontic problems, called malocclusions, are recognized fairly early, while others may not look bad but can cause real dental problems if left untreated. Some of the most common malocclusions are crowding (where the teeth fit together), excessive spacing (where large gaps form between the teeth), and abnormal eruption (one or more teeth appearing in the wrong place). can cause dental complications. For untreated malocclusions, there is an increased risk of developing tooth decay, periodontal disease, and even jawbone loss later in life. However, if you suspect that your child is developing one of these conditions, there is no need to panic. Be sure to bring this up at their next check-in, but you don’t need to make an urgent appointment.
3.Notice an unusual bite or jaw structure
Sometimes problems can develop in the jaw line and how the upper and lower teeth come together to form a bite. Some common examples are as follows:
.A crossbite that occurs when the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth: This is the opposite of what normally happens. A reverse bite like this can cause slipping of the bite or gum problems on the teeth involved.
.Open bite, where the upper and lower teeth do not meet at all and instead form a more oval shape:
Underbite, a condition in which the lower jaw is more prominent than the upper jaw: This usually requires expanders on the upper jaw and brackets on one or both jaws. Treatment will depend on your child’s age and the severity of the condition, but braces are almost unavoidable if your child’s teeth don’t come together when they bite.
If left untreated, these misalignments can have lifelong effects. While these problems are often easily corrected in a growing child, they are much more difficult to reverse in an adult.
4.Pay attention to verbal behavior
Some common childhood behaviors can cause dental problems later on. Thumb sucking and the use of bottles or pacifiers after toddler age can cause or aggravate orthodontic problems.
Sometimes a child having trouble biting or chewing can indicate the need for braces, as it may be related to a bad bite. Just remember that biting or jaw problems don’t always affect how a child eats or chews, so don’t rely on this as tangible proof of anything. These issues are best brought to the attention of your orthodontist.
5.Listen to their speech and pay attention to their self-confidence
There are some speech issues that may be directly related to orthodontic issues. Even if your child’s teeth appear relatively straight and normal to you, have them checked out by an orthodontist to rule out this possibility. In particular, lisp can often be related to teeth.
Some orthodontic issues may appear cosmetic in nature, but if a dental issue is causing real damage to your child’s emotional health and self-esteem, it’s worth exploring treatment based on psychological benefits.
You Think Your Child Needs Braces. What is the Right Age for Braces?
In general, pre-adolescence and early adolescence (13-14) are the best ages to wear braces. During this early adolescence, children are still growing rapidly. If you wait for this window before long, many orthodontic problems can become more difficult and expensive to treat as the face and jawbones settle to adult sizes.
Although orthodontists today can successfully correct most problems regardless of the patient’s age, starting treatment within this “sweet spot” can play a significant role in the overall time and expense required to complete orthodontic treatment.