Signs that your child may require orthodontic treatment include:
- Difficulty chewing or biting. If your child struggles with normal chewing or biting, this may be a sign of misaligned teeth or jaws. Misalignments can be subtle and you may not be able to notice them from a front view of your child’s mouth.
- Grinding of teeth, especially at night. Teeth grinding may be a sign of misalignment and, if left untreated, can damage teeth and further shift jaw and teeth alignment.
- Mouth breathing. Mouth breathing affects the appearance of your child’s face and the growth of their teeth. A longer face with narrow jaws develops as a result of the tongue not resting on the roof of the mouth.
- Finger sucking or other oral habits. Habits like thumb-sucking can pull front teeth forward and cause crowding on the bottom teeth. Most children stop habits like these between the ages of 2 and 4, but if your child persists beyond this, you may have to consider braces.
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth. Teeth that are too close together or overlap can prevent proper care, result in mouth breathing or lisps, and lead to further alignment issues.
- Jaw shifting or clicking. Shifting or clicking jaws are often an indication of improper alignment.
- Early, late, or irregular loss of baby teeth. Losing baby teeth too early can cause teeth to shift into the empty spaces before the adult teeth grow in. Losing teeth too late can also cause alignment and spacing problems.
- Misaligned teeth or jaws. Misalignment, also referred to as malocclusion, includes overbites, underbites, and crossbites that can interfere with chewing and speech.
- Jaws or teeth disproportionate to the rest of the face.
Early Diagnosis is Ideal
Some orthodontic issues may be easier and faster to correct if they are identified and treated earlier, rather than after adult teeth have come in or facial development is nearly complete. Early or “interceptive” treatment is an orthodontic treatment performed while a child still has some baby teeth, and options may include either a fixed or removable appliance to move teeth, change jaw position, or hold other teeth in place. It may also be necessary to remove baby teeth to promote better eruption of adult teeth.
Orthodontic treatment cannot only improve the aesthetics of your child’s smile, but it can also prevent potential problems down the road, such as deteriorating dental health, dental pain or discomfort, and difficulty in chewing, speaking, or dental care.