It may come as a surprise to you that orthodontic treatments aren’t only for adults. The American Association of Orthodontists has recommended the first orthodontic examination has to be done before the child reaches age 7. By this age, there is sufficient jaw development and enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to identify if there are any orthodontic problems in the child. Correction of these orthodontic problems early can also reduce or eliminate the need for complicated orthodontic treatments or surgeries at a later stage in life.
Early Orthodontic Treatment Is Generally Divided into Two Phases
- Phase 1 focuses on the correction of teeth problems related to serious bite issues and ensures the proper development of the jaw. This phase also helps make appropriate room for the normal eruption of permanent teeth. It is usually initiated around the age of 8 or 9. Post-phase 1, there is a resting period that allows for the natural eruption of permanent teeth.
- Phase 2 treatment begins after the resting period. This involves full dental braces for young kids for their upper and lower teeth. Today, your child can choose from various types of braces – metal braces, traditional braces, clear braces, removable braces, Invisalign, etc. This phase is generally initiated around the age of 11 to 14.
Does My Child Need Early Orthodontic Evaluation?
If you observe any of the below-mentioned signs in your child, you should consult a pediatric orthodontist at the earliest for early orthodontic evaluation:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
Timely loss of your child’s baby teeth is important for the normal eruption of adult teeth in an appropriate manner. The normal loss of baby teeth starts around the age of 6-7 and generally stops around age 12. So, if your child is losing his or her teeth much earlier or later than around the normal age, it may indicate an underlying orthodontic problem. A visit to an experienced orthodontist is recommended in such situations.
- Problem in chewing or biting
If your child is experiencing difficulty in chewing or biting, it may be indicative of a problem in his or her teeth or jaws. For instance, your child has to shift jaw in order to chew properly or often complain about sore teeth and gums while chewing. Such cases also require an orthodontic checkup.
- Habits such as thumb sucking
A majority of kids fall into the habit of sucking their thumbs because they see it as an alternative to using their bottles. However, most of these children do fall out of the habit of thumb sucking during their toddler years, between the age of 2 and 4. But, some children may continue the habit as they often find it calming and comforting. If your child still has the habit of thumb sucking when the permanent teeth have started erupting, it may result in protruding upper teeth, crowded lower front teeth, and slight speech problems such as lisping. If you feel you have tried practically everything such as gentle reminders, distraction with a substitute activity, positive reinforcement, etc., it’s time you consider orthodontics for kids so as to ensure that this habit doesn’t result in other orthodontic issues.
- Misaligned, protruding, crowded, misplaced or crooked teeth
If your child’s permanent teeth are erupting in an irregular manner and are growing crooked, it may cause discomfort or make your child conscious about his or her smile. So, crowded, misplaced, blocked-out, or protruding teeth are all a reason good enough to visit a children’s orthodontist.
- Overbite, Underbite or Crossbite
Conditions like open bite, overbite, underbite, and crossbite create bite problems. These are mostly hereditary in nature. These result in unnecessary grinding and wearing down of your child’s teeth, and in most cases, it can interfere with jaw development and, in turn, may contribute towards serious conditions like TMJ – Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.
- Clenching or grinding teeth leading to TMJ disorders
You should also notice whether or not your child has the habit of clenching or grinding his or her teeth. This condition is termed as Bruxism, and it not only gradually wears down the enamel of teeth but also puts excessive pressure on the bones and joints of jaws. This condition also calls for a visit to an orthodontist for kids, who may prescribe certain treatments for Bruxism.
- Slight speech problems
Words are correctly formed and the talking speed is regulated when our tongues are free to move around. If the child’s jaw structure or the placement of the teeth restricts the tongue movement, the child is more likely to have speech issues such as stuttering or slurring.
- Facial asymmetry
If your notice facial abnormalities like teeth too large for the jaws and teeth and jaws are disproportionate as compared to the rest of the face, then your child can benefit from early orthodontic treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment?
Apart from improved oral health and reduced chances of oral problems such as gum diseases, the phase 1 and phase 2 types of orthodontic treatment offer the following benefits:
- It helps create appropriate space for permanent teeth to erupt normally. This, in turn, reduces the need for painful and expensive tooth extraction in the future, which may result from crowded teeth if proper space is not available for permanent teeth to erupt.
- It promotes proper jaw development, thus enhancing the relationship of your child’s upper and lower jaws.
- It corrects bite problems such as overbite, underbite, crossbite, etc.
- It rectifies habits which may be the cause of other development issues such as thumb sucking or tongue pushing.
- It helps resolve any speech impediment.
- Since the bones are more pliable, the movement of teeth becomes comparatively easy than it would be in later years. This increases the comfort level of your child during the treatment.
- It shifts protruding front teeth to their normal position so that the risk of damage to them is eliminated through any kind of injury.
- Reduces the duration for which your child is required to wear braces.
- Significantly reduces the need for complicated and expensive orthodontic surgeries in later years of your child’s life.
- Makes the most of your child’s jaw and teeth development so that your child can enjoy reduced risk of teeth and jaw problems in later years.
- It Enhances facial symmetry, straightens teeth for an improved smile. This helps boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem.
If your child is showing any of the signs mentioned above, the best way to find out for sure what your child needs is by scheduling an evaluation by an orthodontist. Contact Putnam Orthodontics in Carmel or Briarcliff today.