Signs Your Child May Need Early Orthodontic Treatment

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Signs Your Child May Need Early Orthodontic Treatment

Sometimes the best time to evaluate a child for orthodontic treatment is when they’re still young and haven’t developed intractable issues. Here are some of the signs your child may need early orthodontics.

When you think of orthodontia, you generally think of tweens to teens who get a mouthful of metal to correct misalignments and other problems, or even adults who are finally addressing ongoing dental issues. It probably would surprise you, therefore, to learn that the best age for a child to be evaluated for orthodontics is seven years old. That’s right, seven.

At Lovely Smiles Orthodontics, Dr. Nicole Thompson and her staff evaluate and treat many mouths at their Richmond, Texas, office. Whether you or your child is looking for metal braces or the clear aligners offered by Invisalign®, the team can get you fitted and on your way to a happier, healthy smile.

Early treatment, better success

Many orthodontic problems are much easier to treat when they’re caught early in the child’s development, which is why dentists and orthodontists recommend an evaluation at seven years old. By then, your child has enough permanent teeth for the dentist to evaluate the development of the teeth and the jaws and make an informed decision about treatment.

Most kids begin active treatment between ages 9 and 14, but there’s no set age when they need to start. The treatment depends entirely on the child’s needs. For example, kids born with cleft lips and palates are fitted with orthodontic appliances before their first teeth erupt.

Early treatment can be in a child’s best interests if their problem could become more serious over time and is left untreated. That makes the goals of early treatment to intercept the developing problem, eliminate the underlying cause, guide the growth and development of facial and jaw bones, and provide enough space for incoming permanent teeth.

It’s possible that the child may require a second course of orthodontic treatment after all their permanent teeth have come in, so the doctor can move those teeth into their best positions.

Signs of necessary early orthodontic treatment

When the orthodontist evaluates your child’s mouth, the kinds of problems they might recommend treating while a child still has some baby teeth include:

  • Underbites: the lower front teeth sit in front of the upper front teeth
  • Crossbites: the jaw shifts to one side
  • Very crowded teeth
  • Excessively gapped teeth
  • Teeth coming in crooked
  • Impacted teeth
  • Extra or missing teeth
  • Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
  • Thumb- or pacifier-sucking that’s affecting the teeth or jaw growth

Some orthodontic problems are inherited, but many come from injury, dental disease, or the shape of the mouth, such as a very narrow palate.

Early orthodontic intervention isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach; it depends on the nature of the problem(s). The orthodontist may prescribe either a fixed or removable “appliance,” a device that moves the teeth, changes the position of the jaw (e.g. a palate expander), or holds the teeth in place to bring the teeth and jaw in line for good oral health.

Sometimes, though, no appliances are necessary. Instead, removing some of the baby teeth can allow the permanent teeth to erupt better. The dentist or orthodontist coordinates the extractions to align with the child’s growth and development.

Is your child showing signs that orthodontics may be necessary sooner rather than later? Then bring them into Lovely Smiles Orthodontics for an evaluation to determine if or what treatment is necessary. Call the office at 832-219-7687, or book online with us today.