Many parents focus on helping their kids keep their teeth clean, but not as many spend time thinking about whether orthodontic help may be required down the track (especially for kids ages 7 and under). They often don’t see the point in taking their child to an orthodontist when their baby teeth are still in place.
However, catching problems with your child’s mouth, teeth, and bite from as early as age seven can save you a lot of time and money, and save your child a lot of unnecessary pain in the future.
What Should I Be on the Lookout For?
There are several indicators that your child may require preventative orthodontics, and the sooner you detect these signs and book an appointment with your local orthodontist, the better. The issues may also be flagged by your regular dentist, who may recommend that you book a visit with your orthodontist.
Just some of the indicators that your child may need orthodontic care are:
- Teeth that are either very crowded or very spaced out
- A noticeable overbite, underbite, or misaligned bite
- Extra teeth
- Missing teeth
- Protruding teeth
What Causes These Issues?
There are many factors that can contribute to the types of problems listed above. Some of these include:
- Poor nutrition
- Thumb sucking
- Poor oral hygiene
- Dental disease.
While some of these factors, such as thumb sucking, poor nutrition, and poor oral hygiene, can be resolved and improved upon at home, others, such as dental disease and simple genetics, are out of the hands of both you and your dentist. The best course of action is to request the help of an orthodontist to find out the best methods of treatment.
What Treatments are Available?
The type of treatment available for your child will depend entirely on the source of their problem, as different preventative methods are required for different issues.
For misaligned bites, your child could be required to wear headgear for around 12-15 hours a day in order to correct the alignment. If the problem is thumb sucking, which can lead to severe overbite issues in the future, your orthodontist can insert a device that makes it difficult for your child to continue the habit.
For early tooth loss, especially in teeth such as molars that support the structure of the mouth, space maintainers can be inserted to ensure that when the permanent tooth is ready to come in, space has been left for it. Without this, the other teeth could crowd together to fill in the gap, making it painful for the permanent tooth to come through later on.
If, when the two permanent front teeth come through, a problem with spacing or alignment can be detected, it is possible to bond braces to those teeth in order to resolve the problem early on. The alternative would be to fit a full set of braces later on in life, in a process that is more expensive, time-consuming, and uncomfortable for your child.
How Old Should My Child Be for their First Visit?
Many orthodontists recommend that you take your child in for their first orthodontic appointment when they are between six and eight years of age. This allows any problems to be detected and resolved early on before the majority of the baby teeth have begun to fall out.
Early detection of issues can help to protect your child’s teeth from future trauma, improve the general oral hygiene of your child, and help to guide their teeth into the proper position to avoid crowding or large gaps. The earlier these problems are found and treated, the less likely your child is to suffer in the future, and the less money you will have to spend correcting these issues.
Orthodontics and Adults
Children aren’t the only ones affected by orthodontic issues – there are many oral issues that can develop later in life that requires orthodontic help. Don’t assume that orthodontics are reserved for children and young adults – if you think you may have a problem that your orthodontist can solve, book an appointment.
And if you think you’ve detected an oral issue in your child, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with your local orthodontist today.