Orthodontists aim to prevent and treat irregularities in the jaw and misalignment of the teeth that are the result of genetics, or develop 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 check-up allows for early detection of problems and 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, 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?
The orthodontist may take one of several approaches when dealing with children. In some cases, malocclusions or irregularities are carefully monitored and are 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, preventing more complex conditions from occurring. Through early intervention, the 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.