Orthodontists aim to prevent and treat irregularities in the jaw and the misalignment of teeth. These may be the result of genetics or developed in accordance with a child’s habits. The best way to achieve these goals is to have your child evaluated by an orthodontist as early as age seven; however, children with noticeable facial irregularities may benefit from preventive orthodontic treatment several years earlier.
Orthodontists are highly trained to notice minute problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth even if a mixture of baby teeth and permanent teeth are present. While the untrained eye might fail to spot these irregularities, an orthodontic checkup allows for the early detection of problems and the development of efficient treatment plans.
Some of the key signs that an orthodontic problem is present are as follows:
Difficulty chewing and biting
Jaws that click, shift, or make noise as they move
Asymmetry in the face due to disproportionate jaws
Finger and thumb sucking
Bite misalignment (arches of teeth that do not meet properly)
Common Orthodontic Problems for Children
Children often experience overcrowding, jaw growth irregularities, protruding teeth, and teeth that are too widely spaced. While some problems are inherited, the main causes of acquired orthodontic irregularities are:
Inadequate nutrition or dental hygiene problems
Medical problems, such as birth defects
Habits such as thumb or finger sucking
Breathing through the mouth
Earlier or later loss of baby teeth than is considered normal
How Can an Orthodontist Help my Child?
An orthodontist may take one of several approaches when dealing with children. In some cases, malocclusions or irregularities are carefully monitored and addressed at a later date. The ideal time to initiate treatment varies with each individual child and is based on their unique diagnosis.
Early orthodontic treatment is beneficial to reduce the amount and duration of later treatment and prevent more complex conditions from occurring. Through early intervention, an orthodontist is able to correct habits that lead to acquired irregularities, increase the confidence of the child, guide the growth of the jawbone, and decrease the risk of injury to protruding teeth.
If you have any further questions about when your child should visit the orthodontist, please contact our office.