When it comes to treating your child’s teeth with orthodontics, sooner is usually better. All children should see an orthodontist at age seven, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. But why is early evaluation and potential treatment so important?
While an orthodontic evaluation is not always followed by treatment, it allows the orthodontist to predict your child’s development patterns and determine if treatment is needed now or in the future. If treatment is not needed right away, the doctor will continue to monitor your child’s smile until the time comes.
Adult molars usually begin to erupt around age six, providing insight into the basic alignment of the teeth. This can also tell Dr. Randy Wright whether there will be adequate room for all of the adult teeth or if action is needed to create space.
When Early Treatment Is Needed
Common orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 9 and 14, after all the adult teeth have erupted, but some conditions need to be treated earlier while your child’s growth is occurring at a quick rate:
- Severe crossbite, in which the upper teeth close behind the lower teeth, can be treated with a palatal expander. This device gradually widens the upper arch, and is most effective when the jaw is still developing. Waiting to treat crossbite may result in the need for complex treatment, such as surgery.
- Severe crowding occurs when the jaws are too small to accommodate every tooth. In this case, Dr. Randy Wright may recommend a palatal expander or tooth extraction. Early treatment for crowding lessens and simplifies the process of braces later in life.
- Protruding teeth increase the risk of chipping and fractures, and can lead to self-image issues.
- An underbite, in which the lower jaw is much larger than the upper jaw, may lead to bite problems.
At a young age, dental appliances such as headgear and braces can correct many of these issues. If orthodontic treatment is performed while facial development is going strong, it can prevent the need for oral surgery in a few years.
Correcting Bad Habits
While bad habits are common and often not a big deal, some can affect the development of your child’s teeth and jaws. These habits include thumb sucking, mouth breathing, and tongue thrusting.
- Thumb sucking typically disappears between ages two and four, but persistent thumb sucking can push the teeth apart and change the shape of the jaw, resulting in an open bite. This can cause speech difficulties.
- Mouth breathing, in which your child’s mouth remains open to pass air to the lungs, can alter the muscles of the face and tongue. The upper and lower jaws may grow abnormally, creating orthodontic issues.
- Tongue thrusting is the forward thrust of the tongue against the teeth, which can cause an open bite.
Dr. Randy Wright can suggest orthodontic treatments to correct bad habits—and the sooner, the better. It is important to take your child to see the orthodontist at a young age, as these bad habits can be difficult to spot.
At Wright Orthodontics, we highly recommend early orthodontic treatment in Batavia, Illinois, for children. We invite you to contact our office at 630-208-1200 for a consultation.
Early detection of orthodontic problems in young children may make it easier to correct those problems in the long run. Waiting until all of the permanent (adult) teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult or even impossible. An early childhood orthodontic evaluation can yield excellent results.
Thumb-sucking can actually block the front teeth from erupting fully and can also push the teeth forward — sometimes more on the side where the thumb rested. How far out of position the teeth end up will depend on the number of hours per day the thumb was in the child’s mouth and how much pressure was applied. When the pressure exerted by the thumb in the mouth is particularly strong and occurs over a long period of time, the forces can potentially influence growth of the jaws.
Proper alignment of the teeth is basic to “Smile Design.” Their position dictates how they work together and affects the way you look and smile. Only orthodontic treatment can move teeth into the right position. Simply put, when things look right, they probably are right. Learn the basics of smile analysis and design and whether the magic of orthodontics will work for you.