As a parent, you want to make sure your child is healthy and happy. One area you might be wondering about is their dental health. When should you start thinking about pediatric braces or other orthodontic treatment for your child?
Orthodontic treatment is designed to correct issues with the alignment of teeth and jaws. But when is it necessary for a child to see an orthodontist? It can be hard to know, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with dental care.
Early intervention is key when it comes to orthodontic treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by age 7. This doesn’t mean that your child will definitely need treatment at this age, but it’s important to get an early assessment to identify any potential issues.
In this article, we’ll explore 10 early warning signs that your child might need to see an orthodontist.
Difficulty Biting or Chewing Food
Difficulty biting or chewing food can be a sign that your child needs to see an orthodontist, but it is not always an indication that orthodontic treatment is needed. If your child is experiencing difficulty biting or chewing, it may be due to issues with their teeth or jaw alignment such as overcrowded teeth or a bad bite. An orthodontist can evaluate your child’s teeth and jaw to determine if orthodontic treatment, such as braces or other appliances, may be necessary to correct the issue.
Mouth Breathing or Snoring During Sleep
Mouth breathing or snoring during sleep may be caused by various factors such as enlarged tonsils, deviated septum, or misaligned teeth and jaws. Orthodontic treatment, such as braces, a palate expander or other appliances, may be necessary to improve breathing and alleviate snoring. In some cases, orthodontic treatment alone may not be enough to address the underlying issue and other medical interventions may be needed.
Thumb or Finger Sucking Beyond Age 5
Prolonged thumb or finger sucking can cause the teeth to become misaligned, which can affect the growth and development of the jaw and cause bite problems. Braces or other orthodontic treatment options may be necessary to correct any misalignment caused by thumb or finger sucking. In some cases, behavioral interventions may also be recommended to help your child break the habit of thumb or finger sucking. It is important to address this habit early, as prolonged thumb or finger sucking can lead to more significant dental problems and may require more extensive orthodontic treatment in the future.
Crowded or Misplaced Teeth
Crowded teeth occur when there is not enough space in the jaw for all of the teeth to fit properly, which can lead to overlapping or crooked teeth and, eventually, tooth decay and other dental issues. Misplaced teeth occur when teeth erupt in the wrong position, which can cause bite problems and affect the alignment of surrounding teeth.
An orthodontist can evaluate your child’s teeth and jaw to determine if orthodontic treatment, such as braces or other appliances, may be necessary to correct crowding or misplaced teeth. Early intervention can help prevent more severe orthodontic problems from developing and can lead to better long-term dental health outcomes.
Speech Difficulties or a Lisp
Speech difficulties or a lisp can be caused by problems with the positioning or alignment of the teeth, which can affect the way the tongue and lips move during speech. In some cases, speech therapy may be recommended in conjunction with orthodontic treatment to help improve your child’s speech. It is important to address speech difficulties early, as they can affect your child’s self-esteem and academic performance.
Grinding or Clenching of the Teeth
Grinding or clenching of the teeth, also known as bruxism, can be caused by misaligned teeth or a malocclusion, which can put additional pressure on the teeth and cause them to grind or clench together. Over time, bruxism can cause wear and tear on the teeth, leading to dental problems such as tooth sensitivity or chipping. An orthodontist can determine if a misalignment in the permanent teeth may be causing the bruxism. In addition, a custom mouthguard or splint may be recommended to protect the teeth from further damage.
Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth
Baby teeth serve as placeholders for adult teeth, and if they are lost too early or too late, it can affect the development and alignment of the adult teeth. Early loss of baby teeth can also be a sign of underlying dental or medical issues, so it is important to have your child evaluated by an orthodontist or other dental professional if you have concerns.
Jaws that Shift or Make Sounds
Jaw growth issues may be caused by problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the jawbone to the skull. TMJ problems can cause discomfort, pain, and clicking or popping sounds when the jaw is moved. Orthodontic appliances, physical therapy, or other medical interventions may be recommended to alleviate TMJ symptoms.
Teeth That Meet Abnormally or Not at All
Abnormal bite patterns, such as overbites, underbites, and crossbites, can cause problems with chewing, speech, and jaw alignment. It can be difficult for your child to chew and bite food properly, which can affect their overall nutrition and health. Abnormal bite patterns can also put additional stress on the jaw muscles and joints, leading to pain and discomfort.
Early intervention can help prevent more severe orthodontic issues from developing and can lead to better long-term dental health outcomes.
Mouth or Teeth Discomfort or Pain
Mouth or teeth discomfort or pain can be caused by a variety of factors such as dental problems, gum disease, injury, infection, or even stress. It can be a mild discomfort or a severe pain that affects your daily activities such as eating, speaking, or sleeping. Ignoring the pain or discomfort can lead to further complications and more severe dental issues. Schedule an appointment with a dentist or orthodontist as soon as possible to determine the cause of the pain and to create a treatment plan to correct any misalignment that may be causing the discomfort or pain.
Importance of Early Orthodontic Care
Early orthodontic care allows orthodontists to identify any potential issues with a child’s bite and jaw alignment before they become more severe. This can save time and money in the long run, as it may prevent the need for more extensive treatment later on. Additionally, early orthodontic care can help improve a child’s oral health by correcting issues such as overcrowding, which can increase your child’s risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Contact Children Dentistry of Manatee if You Have Oral Health Concerns For Your Child
If you’re worried about your child’s oral health, it’s important to seek professional help from an expert in pediatric dentistry. At Children Dentistry of Manatee, we specialize in providing gentle and effective dental care for children, from infancy through adolescence. Our team of experienced and friendly professionals will work with you and your child to create a personalized treatment plan that meets their needs and helps them maintain healthy teeth and a beautiful smile for life.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to address your child’s dental concerns – contact Children Dentistry of Manatee for a first dental visit today!
Wonderful staff and very patient with our son! Thank you! Will return with more kids-even if they aren’t ours!