Evaluating Your Child’s Orthodontic Needs

As your youngster grows, you may be increasingly concerned about the alignment of his or her teeth. Here is a bit of information to help you understand the signs that your child may need braces and the benefits of an orthodontic correction.

Indications That Your Child Could Benefit From Braces

Every child won’t need braces, but many will. Even though you may care for your youngster’s teeth properly at home and ensure that the little one receives regular dental care, there is no guarantee that your child will have straight, uniform teeth.

Although your child’s bite and the alignment of his or teeth can be affected by environmental factors, such as thumb sucking, early tooth loss, accidental trauma, and pacifier usage, orthodontic issues are largely dependent on the natural formation of your child’s mouth. The way that your child’s teeth present is sometimes based simply on heredity.

Nevertheless, regardless of the cause of your youngster’s dental misalignment, there will likely be clues that an orthodontic correction is needed. Here are a few signs that your child could benefit from getting braces:

  • Problems biting or chewing food. When the teeth of the bottom palate don’t properly connect with those of the upper jaw, chewing can be difficult.
  • Early loss of the primary teeth. If your child loses his or her primary teeth too early, the remaining teeth may shift, leaving too little room for the adult teeth to present in proper alignment.
  • Crowding. If your child’s teeth are crowded, you may notice that the teeth seem stacked like dominos.
  • Clicking sounds during jaw movement. If your child’s jaws shift or click as they are moved, the sounds could indicate a bite problem.
  • Damage to inner cheeks or the roof of the mouth. The inner cheeks may be damaged by teeth that are angled outward. Likewise, the roof of the mouth can incur injuries when the teeth of the lower jaw don’t align with those of the top palate.
  • Lower or upper front teeth that seem to jut out. An under or overbite may be quite noticeable.
  • Large interdental gaps. Your child’s dental alignment may need to be corrected if the spaces between the teeth are too large.
  • Mouth breathing. Mouth breathing can indicate problems with the way that the teeth and jaws are developing.
  • Unclear speech. When the teeth are wrongly aligned, they can interfere with clear speech. Your child may have trouble forming certain consonant sounds.

These signs alone do not prove that your child will need treatment. If indications of a dental misalignment present, a dentist will need to confirm the need for an orthodontic correction. Thus, it is important to have your child visit a dentist regularly.

When Your Child Will Be Evaluated for Braces

A child can usually be evaluated orthodontically once the little one nears the age of seven. By that age, the youngster’s jaws have developed sufficiently. In addition, many of the primary teeth have been lost, and enough permanent teeth have presented to indicate current or potential alignment problems.

In many cases, if issues are found, dentists prefer an early intervention. This preference is due to the advantages of an early treatment, such as the following:

  • Reduced treatment time
  • Fewer instances of impaction
  • Fewer extractions needed
  • Better self-esteem

The advantages stem from the minimizing of dental crowding, the proper guidance of jaw growth, and the correction of habits that can worsen orthodontic problems, such as thumb sucking.

Treating Your Child’s Misalignment

If an early treatment is elected, your child’s dentist may suggest starting the alignment correction as soon as age six. By initiating the treatment so early, adjustments to the growing jaws and the associated bite can begin.

Later, when the child reaches the preteen years, further treatment can be conducted. Around the preteen years, almost all of the child’s permanent teeth have erupted. However, the bones of the jaws have not stopped growing or fully hardened.

If you believe that your child’s teeth or jaws are misaligned, schedule an appointment with the Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida. Our professional dental staff can perform a thorough evaluation of your youngster’s mouth and prescribe a suitable treatment plan if needed.