Early orthodontic treatment will set your child up for success.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all kids see an orthodontist before they turn seven years old. By age seven, kids have a mix of baby and adult teeth, which helps the orthodontist catch problems early on. Crowded teeth, trouble breathing through the nose, over or underbites, and disproportional jaws are just a few of the things early orthodontic treatment can address.
That’s right, orthodontic treatment does a lot more than just straighten teeth. It can improve your child’s oral health, support their natural development, and boost their confidence. Read on to learn all the ways your child could benefit from kids’ orthodontics.
Building Space for Adult Teeth
As our kids lose their baby teeth, their jaw should slowly expand to make room for their larger adult teeth. But, for some kids, their jaw doesn’t grow quickly enough to create space for their permanent teeth. When that happens, your child’s teeth might look crowded, crooked, or even overlap each other.
This is a sign that your child could benefit from upper jaw or palate expansion treatment. The palate, or the roof of the mouth, has two parts that don’t fully join until adulthood. That’s why it’s much more effective to catch this issue in early childhood.
For this treatment, the orthodontist will use a palatal expander. This mouth appliance attaches to the upper molars and has a small screw that gradually makes the appliance wider. This treatment can cause some mild discomfort, but your dentist should work with you on finding solutions and tempering the treatment to your child’s case. It’s so effective, your child might not need braces.
Easing Jaw Pain
You might have heard your own or your child’s dentist refer to “the bite.” The bite just refers to the way our teeth come together when we close our mouths.
A healthy bite is one where the points and grooves of your molars fit together and your upper teeth sit slightly over your bottom teeth. When teeth don’t fit together as they should, it’s called malocclusion.
A major side effect of bite issues is jaw pain. If your child has complained about muscle tension in their jaw, has trouble chewing, or you hear a popping sound when they eat, orthodontic treatment can ease their troubles.
When the teeth are aligned, it takes tension off the jaw and teeth. They’ll get relief and you’ll get peace of mind knowing their growth is on the right track.
Guiding Healthy Jaw Growth
Bite issues like overbites or underbites are actually caused by a dysfunction in the lower jaw. Kids’ orthodontic treatment can address this issue with great results. Childhood is an opportune time for care because the jaw isn’t fully developed yet.
It may surprise you to learn that genetics only play a small part in the growth of your child’s jaw. It mostly depends on the development of the soft tissues and muscles in the face, which are affected by a variety of factors you can still influence when you partner with a dental caregiver.
Your dentist or an orthodontist can assess your child’s resting oral posture to check for proper growth. If there’s an issue, they might suggest exercises, headgear, or removable appliances to address your child’s oral posture.
Healthy jaw growth can prevent breathing issues, sleep disorders, headaches, and neck pain in the future. Correct oral posture and jaw growth ensures that your child feels healthy and happy.
Resolving Speech Issues
If your child has trouble pronouncing certain words or they have a lisp, that can be a sign they could benefit from orthodontic treatment. For example, the main cause of a lisp is actually an overbite, or when the upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth more than they should. Spaces between the teeth can also cause a lisp or whistling. Luckily, braces can close gaps between the teeth and fix an overbite.
If your child has trouble pronouncing words with “ch,” “t,” or “s” sounds, that could point to a teeth alignment issue. When teeth are in the right place, the tongue can make contact with the teeth, and pronunciations become much easier.
An orthodontist can also correct some word slurring, especially when it’s caused by tongue placement issues. If your child’s jaw isn’t growing like it should or there’s a teeth-crowding issue, the tongue won’t have the freedom it needs.
Kids’ braces can address structural issues in the mouth. It will make it easier for your child to speak and express themselves so they can feel more confident.
Reducing Time for Phase II Braces
Phase I braces are used in kids who have more baby teeth than permanent ones. Unlike Phase II braces, this treatment isn’t so much about correcting the placement of the teeth. Instead, it’s more about treating structural issues like an underbite or a palate issue.
Addressing these structural issues early on can make Phase II treatment much simpler and quicker. For kids in Phase II treatment, they have most of their permanent teeth with only a few baby teeth left.
Say a child had an issue with crowding teeth that their orthodontist treated with a palatal expander and Phase I braces. Once the child has enough space to accommodate their larger adult teeth, they may only need minor correction with Phase II braces.
Early dental intervention can lay the groundwork for future braces. That means your child may not have to spend as much time dealing with braces.
Talk to your child’s dentist about early orthodontic treatment.
Early orthodontic treatment can catch structural issues with the palate and jaw that can be harder to correct later on. This will save your child the hassle and it can even save you money in the long run. Taking your child to the orthodontist early can ensure proper development and prevent pain and speech issues in the future.
If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist that will make your child’s experience as fun and stress-free as possible, Dr. Ben can help. At Pediatric Dental Specialists of Omaha, we’ll care for their smile from their first visit until they graduate from high school. Contact us today to book an appointment or to get more information.