If you’re concerned about your child’s teeth and are considering booking an appointment at an orthodontist, this article is for you! We’re taking a look at common orthodontic issues that children have, how to treat them, and much more, so you can make an informed choice about your child’s care.
What Orthodontic Issues Affect Children?
Children can have all the same orthodontic issues that an adult can – in fact, it is during this early physical development stage that these issues begin. Children can have one or more of the following tooth and jaw alignment issues:
- Crowding – A common issue is that there’s insufficient space on the jaw for all the teeth that are erupting, causing them to be pushed out of their proper positions. Crooked, rotated and overlapping teeth are difficult to clean and easily trap food particles and bacteria, which can make your child at high risk of cavities and gum disease.
- Spacing – Gaps can occur when teeth are undersized, missing or are out of proportion to the jaw size. Food can get stuck between these gaps, causing higher tooth decay and gum disease risks.
- Crossbite – This is when the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth when brought together, and can affect one tooth or many teeth. If it’s not corrected, children may experience lopsided jaw growth and the enamel of the affected teeth will wear quickly.
- Open bite – An open bite usually affects groups of teeth at the back, front or side of the mouth, where the top and bottom teeth don’t meet when the jaws are closed. This can cause mouth breathing, swallowing problems, speech issues and difficulty chewing.
- Deep bite – A deep bite is when one set of teeth significantly covers the other set when the jaw is closed. This can damage tooth enamel and even injure gums or the roof of the mouth in severe cases.
- Underbite – This is when the lower jaw protrudes and the upper teeth sit behind the lower teeth. This can affect your child’s appearance and self-confidence, as well as causing excessive wear on enamel and stress on the jaw.
- Protrusion – Also known as buck teeth, these teeth are set at an angle and protrude from the jaw outward rather than straight. Depending on the teeth affected, they can cause speech problems, discomfort and increased risks of tooth decay caused by the mouth tissues getting dried out. They can also break off more easily in accidents and can be very uncomfortable.
Why Is Orthodontic Treatment for Children Important?
While many people focus on the benefit of having an attractive smile and how that impacts the very important issue of self-confidence in children, the main benefit is to their oral health. When teeth and jaws are correctly aligned, they are perfectly positioned for a lifetime of optimal functionality (for eating, chewing and speaking), easy cleaning and reduced oral health diseases.
What is the Right Age to See an Orthodontist?
Many parents are told that the right time to see an orthodontist is once your child’s full set of permanent teeth have arrived. This is incorrect, as there is actually a lot an orthodontist can do to help forecast potential alignment issues and start correcting them from a much earlier age.
In general, we recommend that you should have an orthodontic evaluation for your child at age 7. This is because we can clearly see the adult teeth forming within the gums, map how they will erupt and evaluate early clues to alignment issues that will occur over the next few years as the permanent teeth come in. This is also a good time to begin early orthodontic treatment as children are still growing quickly and their jaws and teeth can be manipulated very effectively during this time, helping to ensure the best results and faster treatment.
While this is a general rule, there are also important exceptions. If your child is younger than 7 but you suspect they have an orthodontic issue already, you should come in for an evaluation. If your orthodontist does spot an alignment issue or problem, then we can start planning treatment early. Regardless, you will get peace of mind over your child’s oral health.
Book an Appointment for an Evaluation from a Leading Orthodontist in the Frankston Dandenong Area
Orthodontic Specialists of Melbourne are a leading provider of orthodontic solutions for children and teens. With a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and an experienced, talented team, we’re here to help your child achieve an attractive and healthy smile. Schedule an appointment at one of our local clinics in Frankston or Dandenong today.