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There are many signs that your child may need orthodontic treatment. In addition to common indicators like misaligned or crowded teeth, speech problems and eating habits can also make your dental team aware of possible orthodontic issues, especially for younger kids. More than ever orthodontists are recommending early treatment to avoid more serious problems down the road. Here are some tips on how to spot potential indicators of the need for orthodontic treatment.
What Are Early Signs That My Child May Need Orthodontic Treatment?
According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) there is a range of signs that your child may need orthodontic attention.
Problems related to alignment and spacing include:
- Crossbites (when the top teeth sit outside the bottom teeth)
- Excessive overjet (protrusion of the top teeth)
- Underbite (front bottom teeth sit in front of top teeth when biting on the back teeth)
- Uneven or unusual spacing
In some cases a chipped tooth can indicate a bite misalignment, offering evidence that the upper and lower teeth are not meshing properly.
Other factors that can indicate possible orthodontic problems include:
- Speech problems
- Trouble with chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Food pocketing (When children store hard to chew food in “pockets’ between their cheek or lips and gums. This is usually related to chewing or biting issues.)
What Causes Orthodontic Problems In Children?
Many orthodontic problems are genetic, but other causes can include habits like thumb or finger sucking. Early or late loss of baby teeth can also cause problems as teeth shift in the mouth or become overcrowded.
What Are The Benefits Of Early Orthodontic Intervention?
According to the AAO, treating younger children can provide results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing. Catching problems early can help avoid bigger, more costly problems in the future.
According to the AAO, benefits of early treatment include:
- Allowing professionals to guide jaw growth
- Lowering the risk of damage to protruded front teeth
- Correcting harmful oral habits (like thumb sucking and teeth grinding)
- Guiding permanent teeth into a better position as they come in
When Is The Right Time For An Orthodontic Screening?
According to the American Dental Association, abnormal bites usually become visible between the ages of 6 and 12, and orthodontic treatment usually begins between age 8 and 14. The AAO recommends an initial screening by age 7 to catch potential problems. One of the advantages of a dental practice that includes both pediatric dentistry and orthodontics is the seamless continuum of care offered by providers. Dental and orthodontic teams work together to identify potential problems and address or monitor them as needed. Your dentist may notice issues as early as age 5 or 6 and can provide an immediate referral for an orthodontic screening.
Does Your Child Need Braces? Your Dental Office Is Here To Help
As our understanding of tooth and jaw development progresses, the benefits of early orthodontic care are becoming clearer. Deciding on early orthodontic care–and picking the best time to intervene– can be challenging for families. That’s why regular visits to a trusted dental practitioner are the best way to keep tabs on your child’s orthodontic health. When a dentist catches a potential problem in a toddler, they can refer the child to a trusted colleague, which can reduce the duration and cost of future treatments. Building a relationship with a dedicated and caring pediatric dental practice is a great way to establish trust and gain peace of mind.