Why Are Orthodontic Evaluations for Children So Important?
Every child can benefit from an orthodontic evaluation.
If you’re a parent, you likely went to your first orthodontic consultation when you were about 13 years old, so orthodontic treatment probably isn’t on your radar as your child nears second grade. You might even think it sounds strange when their pediatric dentist mentions that your little one should have their first orthodontic consultation at about seven years old. After all, your child isn’t even close to having all of their adult teeth yet!
As a result, you might be tempted to wait on your child’s consultation until they’re older or avoid taking them to the orthodontist if their teeth look relatively straight. We understand this temptation. Orthodontic treatment can seem daunting and it’s normal to not want to put your child through unnecessary treatments, but orthodontic evaluations are incredibly important for your child. Even if you schedule a single appointment and learn that your child was blessed with perfect teeth, it’s not a wasted trip—you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that there aren’t any hidden issues. If you’re on the fence about scheduling a consultation for your child or would simply like to learn more, here are a few reasons why they’re important for children of all ages.
Orthodontic treatment will benefit your child’s oral health for a lifetime.
Although we often think about the aesthetic benefits of orthodontic treatment first, it has very real benefits for your child’s oral health as well. Crooked teeth form nooks and crannies that allow plaque to build up and are harder to clean well, even if your child is trying their best to be thorough. As a result, crooked teeth are more vulnerable to decay, especially if your child isn’t as careful as they should be with their oral hygiene routine. Straightening your child’s teeth eliminates these nooks and crannies, making it easier for them to clean their teeth and helping them maintain a healthier mouth. Since the results are permanent, they’ll benefit from them for their entire lives—helping them to stay healthier and saving money from dental treatments along the way!
It can decrease your child’s likelihood of suffering a dental injury.
When some teeth stick out more than others, even by a small amount, they’re more vulnerable to injuries like chipping, cracking, or breaking because they take the brunt of an outside force. If your child takes a direct hit to the face, most of the impact hits the tooth that sticks out more, while an object hitting your child’s teeth from the side runs the risk of getting caught on a tooth that sticks out a little bit. In contrast, straight teeth form a smooth, even wall—there’s nothing for objects to catch on and the force of a blow is distributed more evenly among all of the teeth instead of just one or two. While there are certainly ways your child can injure even perfectly straight teeth, it’s less likely.
It can make natural tasks easier.
In some cases, misaligned bites can make daily tasks like eating, speaking, and even breathing more difficult. Eating can feel awkward or uncomfortable with a misaligned bite, while crooked teeth can cause distortions in your child’s speech. Additionally, your jaw’s natural position impacts how open your airway is; if your child snores at night, a misaligned bite could be the cause. Not all children who need orthodontic treatment will suffer from these issues, but for the children who do, orthodontic treatment can have a huge impact on their daily lives.
Orthodontic treatment can improve your child’s self-esteem.
If you’ve ever had crooked teeth, you know how much your smile can impact your confidence—and this is true for children too, especially as they near their teenage years. Straightening your child’s teeth can give them a boost in self-confidence; their smile may even become one of their favorite features about themselves. The ability to flash a confident, even grin will benefit them as they age as well. People who smile readily and confidently are often seen as more trustworthy and approachable, so your child’s straightened smile may help them make friends or make a good impression at future job interviews.
Early orthodontic treatment can reduce the need for later treatments.
Orthodontists can predict your child’s future bite and the dental issues they’ll likely face as more of their adult teeth come in, which puts orthodontists in the perfect position to take action before these problems fully develop. Since this can greatly reduce or even eliminate a problem before it appears, it’s vital for your child to see an orthodontist when they’re about seven years old. Orthodontists can influence the growth of your child’s still-growing face and jaws to improve or prevent issues. For example, orthodontists prevent overcrowding by using a palate expander to create more room in your child’s mouth; the plates of bone in your child’s palate haven’t fused together yet, so the expander puts gentle outward pressure to slowly force them apart. New bone grows and fills the gap, making the expansion permanent.
Most children don’t need early orthodontic treatment, but it’s always best to know for sure. While early orthodontic treatment doesn’t usually eliminate the need for later orthodontic treatment when your child reaches their teenage years, it does greatly reduce the severity and length of treatments they’ll need. This often means less time with braces and avoiding tooth extractions to address overcrowding.
Although it might sound strange to take your child for an orthodontic consultation when they’re still so young, it’s the best way to ensure that your child gets the best treatment possible and to save them from more invasive and lengthy treatments in the future. Whether your child gets orthodontic treatment as a young child or a teenager, they’ll benefit from the confidence, improved health, and lower dental bills for the rest of their lives. If you have questions about your child’s orthodontic health or are ready to come in for an appointment, feel free to call us or request an appointment online.