Problems to Watch for in Growing Children

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The Right Time for an Orthodontic

Check-Up: No Later than Age 7

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children get a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7.

Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are
still present.
• While your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist
can detect.
• A check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine. Or, the orthodontist may identify a developing
problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then, if indicated, begin
treatment at the appropriate time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem
that can benefit from early treatment.
• Early treatment may prevent or intercept more serious problems from developing and may make treatment
at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to
achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
• Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:
Guide jaw growth
Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
Correct harmful oral habits
Improve appearance
Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
Create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips, and face
• Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy,
beautiful smile.
If your child is older than 7, it’s certainly not too late for a check-up.
Because patients differ in both physiological development and treatment needs, the orthodontist’s goal is to provide each patient with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.

Here’s why you should keep an eye on your child’s teeth:

  1. You may assume because your child’s teeth are straight, they are fine. However, an underlying problem could be present, such as with the jaw or alignment. The orthodontist has the tools and experience to know what to look for and what it means.
  2. Spotting an issue early on can prevent it from becoming a bigger problem down the road. Even if an issue is spotted, this doesn’t mean action must be taken right away. Sometimes, the orthodontist will simply monitor it every few months until action is necessary. Plus, treating a problem at an early age is far more preferable than waiting until the teenage years or adulthood, when the jaw is fully grown. Treatment is also less complicated and painful as a child.
  3. Early treatment allows the orthodontist to do the following:
  • Guide and monitor jaw growth.
  • Reduce the risk of trauma to front teeth that may be protruding.
  • Help correct and reverse bad oral hygiene habits.
  • Guide permanent teeth into a better position.
  • Make your child’s smile more aesthetically pleasing.

Once your child is on a regular schedule of visits with the orthodontist, you can rest assured they’re being monitored for any issues that may crop up. You will be advised when braces are recommended or any other devices such as palate expanders.

There are many problems that can befall your child’s teeth, from crooked teeth to overbites and underbites, which are inherited traits. When misaligned bites are left untreated, it can lead to problems later on. Overbites and underbites are very common in both children and adults, caused by early loss of baby and adult teeth, as well as thumb sucking, gum disease and jaw misalignment after injury.

Bad habits like prolonged use of bottles and pacifiers as well as thumb sucking and fingernail biting can contribute to the need for orthodontic treatment. Limit their use and stop them as early on as possible so it’s easier to get your kids to stop the behavior. Other problems that could arise from injury, heredity or bad habits include anything from open bites to protrusion.

The Right time for an orthodontic check-up

Certain orthodontic problems such as those displayed below may benefit from an early orthodontic check-up. Your orthodontist will undertake a complete evaluation and advise you on what to do

Other orthodontic problems that may benefit from an early orthodontic check-up:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Teeth that are slow to erupt
  • Mouth breathing
  • Facial imbalance
  • Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
  • Oral habits (eg. thumb sucking)
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth

The ideal age at which to see an Orthodontist is around 8 years old.

  • An early check-up with an orthodontist will often reveal that everything is developing normally. However, if there is an underlying problem, frequently it can go unnoticed. An orthodontic check-up will identify the problem before it becomes more severe.
  • Often all that is needed is close monitoring of growth and development to assess the ideal time for treatment. For many patients, it is best to wait until further growth has occurred or more permanent teeth have erupted in the mouth.
  • In some cases the orthodontist will recommend early treatment to prevent a problem from occurring or to limit the extent of a developing problem, making future treatment easier and shorter.
  • Some indications for early treatment may involve:
    • Correction of a habit (eg.thumb sucking)
    • Limiting dental trauma from a deep-bite or protruding teeth
    • Guidance of the lower jaw
    • Improve the position of teeth for improved dental function and aesthetics
    • Widen the upper jaw to help the face grow symmetrically
    • Treatment to help teeth erupt into the correct position in the mouth

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.