Braces for Kids


EARLY TREATMENT
You probably know that it’s never too late to begin orthodontic treatment — but when it comes to your youngster’s teeth, did you know that earlier may be better than later? According to the American Association of Orthodontists, kids should have an initial orthodontic screening at age 7.

What makes early evaluation— and potentially, early treatment — so important?

There are several ways that kids can benefit from seeing an orthodontist at an early age. But it’s important to recognize that early evaluation isn’t necessarily followed by early treatment; in most cases, if orthodontic work is needed, we simply monitor your child’s growth patterns until we see that it’s time for treatment to begin. This gives us an opportunity to get the best results in the most efficient way, and to help prevent future problems.

Although every child’s development is different, in most kids the first adult molars have typically started to emerge by around age six. This, along with other developmental markers, lets us get a handle on the basic alignment of the teeth, from front to back and side to side. It may also be possible at this point to determine whether there is adequate room in the mouth for all of the permanent teeth — and, if not, to take action.

When Earlier Treatment Is Better
Treatment for common orthodontic problems typically begins around age 9-14, when all of the baby teeth are gone and many of the permanent ones are in place. But there are some conditions that are much easier to treat if they’re caught at an early age, when a child’s natural growth processes are going full speed ahead.
One is severe crossbite, a condition where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. To treat this problem, a device called a palatal expander can be used, which gradually and painlessly widens the upper jaw; it’s especially effective when the jaw itself hasn’t fully developed. If we wait too long, a more complicated treatment — or even oral surgery — might be required to correct the problem.

Another condition that may benefit from early treatment is severe crowding. This occurs when the jaws are too small to accommodate all of the permanent teeth. Either palatal expansion or tooth extraction may be recommended at this point, to help the adult teeth erupt (emerge from below the gums) properly. Even if braces are required later, the treatment time will likely be shorter and less complicated.

Early intervention may also be helpful in resolving several other problems. Protruding teeth, especially in front, can be prone to chipping and fractures; they may also lead to problems with a child’s self-image. A severe underbite, caused by the lower jaw growing much larger than the upper jaw, can result in serious bite problems. Orthodontic appliances, including braces and headgear, can be successfully used to correct these problems at this stage, when the child’s development is in full swing, thereby increasing the chances that surgery can be avoided.


Correcting Bad Habits
At one time or another, anyone may pick up a bad habit. But there are some situations where a youngster’s parafunctional (detrimental to health) habits can actually influence the development and function of his or her teeth, jaws and mouth. Some examples of these are persistent thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing.
The sucking reflex is natural in early childhood; it usually disappears between ages 2 and 4. But if it persists much later, the pressure of the digit on the front teeth and the upper jaw can actually cause the teeth to move apart and the jaws to change shape. This can lead to the orthodontic problem called “open bite,” and may impair speech. An open bite can also be caused by the force of the tongue pushing forward against the teeth (tongue thrusting).

Mouth breathing — an abnormal breathing pattern in which the mouth always remains open, passing air directly to the lungs — is related to alterations in the muscular function of the tongue and face. It may cause the upper and lower jaw to grow abnormally, which can lead to serious orthodontic problems. Although mouth breathing may start from a physical difficulty, it can become a habitual action that’s hard to break.

Various orthodontic treatments are available to help correct these parafunctional habits — and the sooner they’re taken care of, the less damage they may cause. But these potential problems aren’t always easy to recognize. That’s one more reason why you should bring your child in for an early orthodontic screening.


EARLY TREATMENT ALLOWS YOUR ORTHODONTIST TO:

  • Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
  • Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
  • Create more space for crowded teeth
  • Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
  • Correct thumb sucking or tongue thrust and help improve minor speech problems

For parents, it’s not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment. If your child is seven or older, schedule a no cost or obligation initial exam with Specialty Smiles today!
SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT


HERE ARE A FEW THINGS TO LOOK FOR THAT MAY MEAN YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO SEE AN ORTHODONTIST

  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
  • Protruding Upper Front Teeth (these are prone to childhood injuries)
  • Crossbites (the lower teeth bite outside the top teeth)
  • Underbites
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • A hard time chewing or biting food
  • Mouth breathing
  • Severe nightly grinding
  • Finger or thumb sucking
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
  • Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
  • Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face

Please contact Specialty Smiles to schedule an appointment for an orthodontic evaluation. Early treatment now will provide a good foundation for their developing jaws and teeth and may save them extensive and unnecessary treatment in the future.


EARLY PREVENTION

Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why might my child need early treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long run? These are just a few of the questions surrounding the topic of early orthodontic treatment for children.

SCHEDULE A CONSULT TO FIND OUT MORE

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven. At this point the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment.

Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future.

How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Teeth that do not come together in a normal manner or even at all
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?

Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child’s smile.


CHILDREN’S ORTHODONTICS

Orthodontics for Children

While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting the orthodontist around age seven. By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for the orthodontist to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.

SCHEDULE A CONSULT TO FIND OUT MORE
For parents, it’s not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment.

Early treatment allows your orthodontist to:

  • Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
  • Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
  • Create more space for crowded teeth
  • Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
  • Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems
  • Here are a few things to look for that may mean your child needs to see an orthodontist:
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • A hard time chewing or biting food
  • Mouth breathing
  • Finger or thumb sucking
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
  • Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
  • Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

Please contact our practice to schedule an appointment for an orthodontic evaluation. Early treatment now will give your child a healthy, beautiful smile for the future.