The Surprising Age Your Child Can Begin Orthodontics
As a parent, of course you want the best for your child – including nice straight teeth and a healthy smile. Asking the above questions when a child is just starting to get their adult teeth is actually the right time to do so!
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, the ideal age for children to have an orthodontic assessment is around 7. In this post we’ll discuss why it’s important to start orthodontic discussions with your dentist at an early age.
While some of the discussion will be about planning for the future, there are early treatments that can be done to correct tooth and jaw problems in advance of orthodontics and give your child a head start.
What are some signs that your child my require braces?
Sometimes there are obvious signs that a child may need braces in the future. These included crowded adult teeth that overlap or cannot straighten out due to lack of space. Less obvious signs include difficulty chewing or biting food, a jaw that makes a sound when opening or closing, or a jaw or teeth that appear small relative to the rest of the face.
The best course of action is to discuss any concerns with your dentist at your child’s next dental exam.
At what age are braces needed?
Once all of the adult teeth have arrived, your child can begin orthodontic treatment. For most children this happens between ages 12 and 16. Although braces could be done later in life, there are several reasons to get it done during these formative teen years.
One reason to have your teen correct crooked or crowded teeth is based on general oral health. The fact is, it is more difficult to clean crooked teeth, which may contribute to cavities and the potential for gum disease.
Teeth that do not fit well together, also known as an improper bite, can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing, and stress on supporting bone and gum tissue. Orthodontic treatment early on may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat these same problems in later years.
Although it’s true that your teen will not likely enjoy having braces on, the emotional side of an unattractive smile that is not treated is also significant. Teenagers with orthodontic problems left untreated may go through life feeling self-conscious, hiding their teeth and their smile.
You can also ask your dentist about the possibility of using Invisalign for teens, an orthodontic solution that uses a series of clear, removable aligners to straighten teeth.
What can be done to minimize the need for braces?
Most children with crowded teeth and misaligned bites have underdeveloped lower jaws, which can be corrected with functional appliances. Functional appliances help expand the jaw and create more space for new adult teeth, while the teeth are straightened with orthodontic appliances later on.
The use of functional appliances can reduce the time the child needs to wear fixed braces and also can reduce the need for the extraction of permanent teeth. Functional appliances develop the dental arches so that all the permanent teeth can erupt, which helps create a broad smile and healthy jaw joints.
The ideal age for the use of functional appliances is between 7 and 11, however, in some cases can be utilized as early as age 4, if the upper jaw is too narrow and is having a negative effect on the child’s breathing and speech.
Contact Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group today to book an appointment and begin discussions about your child’s orthodontic needs.