While most parents understand the importance of beginning regular dental check-ups for their children at a young age, many don’t realize that early orthodontics evaluations are just as important to their child’s oral health. They’re so important, in fact, that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child have an orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re about 7 years old!
If you have a child around this age, you might be slightly confused by this recommendation. After all, many young children still have mouths that are developing and many of their baby teeth are still remaining, right? Not only is that true, but it’s actually the main reason an orthodontic evaluation is recommended! When paired with regular growth and development checks, these evaluations allow us to catch any orthodontic issues in the earliest stages. This can keep them from having any negative impact on your child’s teeth or bite as they get older, giving them the best chance at a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Here at Brace-Asaurus, we work with patients of all ages, including children. This has given us the opportunity to see first-hand how beneficial early evaluations, monitoring, and treatment can be for a child’s oral health. If it’s time for your child’s very first orthodontic appointment, our team would love to meet you both and take a look at their dental developmental progress! During this initial consultation, Dr. Desai will be watching out for any signs of a variety of orthodontic issues. Let’s take a look at what they are, why they matter to your child’s smile, and what we can do to correct them early on!
Tooth loss and eruption
Many people don’t pay much attention to baby teeth, since they eventually all fall out, anyway. However, they’re meant to serve as placeholders for our permanent teeth, so where they’re located and when they’re lost matter more than you may realize. Primary teeth also typically fall out in a specific order, so if Dr. Desai notices a significant deviation in this pattern, it could be a sign of a developmental issue that requires more attention.
By the time they reach the age for their first orthodontic evaluation, most children will have at least four permanent molars and up to four permanent incisors. If your child has any more or less than this, it could indicate that they have missing, crowded, or extra teeth that need additional monitoring by Dr. Desai.
Crowding and spacing
As an experienced orthodontist, Dr. Desai will be able to assess your child’s development and recognize if they have any problems with excessive crowding or spacing. He’ll also be able to determine if this is likely to cause any long-term problems in the future. Spacing issues can happen if a tooth has been lost prematurely, if one has never developed, or when the teeth are too small and narrow. If your child is dealing with issues related to crowding, we can often correct this by extracting certain primary teeth. In more severe cases, we may choose to use dental arch development and expansion.
If your child has crooked teeth, they could deal with several challenges. Not only is it more difficult to clean them, they’re also more susceptible to uneven wear and tear. If left untreated, this can compromise the surrounding gum tissue over time. Eventually, it can even change the shape and position of the gum line. Although we can successfully align teeth at any age, getting a head start on correcting certain issues can give your child a head start on a healthy smile!
Front teeth that noticeably protrude are often seen as a cosmetic issue, but the effects of an overbite pattern go deeper than appearances. Patients may experience jaw pain, excessive tooth wear, and trouble with normal speech patterns, all as a result of protruding teeth.
While we’ll usually wait until a child’s mouth has developed a bit more before attempting to correct an overbite, there are still a number of treatment options that can be used to reduce the risk of pain and traumatic injury as they grow. These corrective measures can also serve to improve your child’s confidence in their smile!
If your child has an underbite, we need to determine whether the malocclusion is caused by issues with the eruption of the teeth or by the relationship of the jaws. This sometimes means that we need to wait until the patient has finished growing to start comprehensive treatment. However, with early treatment, some measures can be taken to help avoid damage to the front teeth and encourage skeletal correction. Our patients who receive treatment for underbite between the ages of 7-10 tend to be less likely to require corrective jaw surgery when they get older.
A posterior crossbite can lead to crowding, reduced airway function, and can even cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other. Expanding the upper jaw in earlier childhood is more predictable, and also requires less pressure with less invasive appliances. Treating a posterior crossbite can help eliminate shifts in the bite that can lead to asymmetric jaw growth, will reduce crowding, and can also create space for the permanent teeth to erupt. Treatment can even improve the quality of a child’s airway.
Anterior Open Bites
In an anterior open bite, the front teeth do not overlap enough. This often leads to poor function and excessive wear on the back teeth. It can be caused by oral habits such as extended finger or thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, or if a child uses a bottle or pacifier for too long.
In these cases, we’ll be happy to work with you and your child to help beat any bad habits early on. This will allow their dental development to progress normally.
Improve your child’s oral health at Brace-Asaurus
Once you have an understanding of all that goes into an early orthodontic evaluation, the role they play in your child’s oral health and development is clear. Even if your child doesn’t require any type of treatment, you’ll be able to have peace of mind knowing our expert team is monitoring their dental development as they grow!
Here at Brace-Asaurus, we’re proud to provide positive, stress-free orthodontic treatment to patients of all ages. If your child is ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, contact our office today and schedule a free consultation with Dr. Desai!