Many parents take their children to a pediatric dentist, but are not sure when to go to the orthodontist. Although there is no exact right time, there are some indicators that let us know that the time may be now!
As a parent, you always want the best for your child, so that means knowing the signs and when to seek out treatment options. Taking proactive steps rather than having to make retroactive fixes can save your child from many dental, orthodontic, and general health procedures in the future!
We hope these five tips will give you a clearer picture of when orthodontics could be a great option. Here is a guide to help you!
Your Child Just Turned 7 Years Old
Depending on your child’s tooth development, they may start to lose baby teeth between ages 5-6. Shortly after this development, you may begin to see the emergence of a few permanent teeth. This stage of your child’s development is particularly crucial in their smile journey.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that as a general rule of thumb your child should be evaluated by an orthodontist between the ages of 7-8 years old. This may seem like a very early age, but problems like jaw alignment and crowding can be identified and prevented rather than fixed later on.
Your Child’s Teeth are Gapping or Overlapping
Extremely crowded and extremely spaced out teeth are very common problems in the orthodontic world. If you notice early on that your child is having either of these problems, it is more beneficial to be proactive and to come up with a treatment plan before the spacing or crowding becomes a severe issue.
A crowded mouth can make the teeth harder to clean which increases the chance of dental decay. Ultimately, this also increases the likelihood of gum disease. Too much space in your mouth might feel like less of an issue but it can also result in gum issues due to less protection from your teeth.
Your Child has a Noticeable Overbite, Underbite, or any other Irregular Bite
An overbite is when the upper teeth stick out in front of your bottom teeth. Most people have at least a little overbite, but this misalignment can cause many issues such as tooth decay, jaw pain, severe headaches, trouble opening and closing your mouth, trouble sleeping, pain while eating, and even difficulty speaking.
An underbite is just the opposite, but less common. This would occur if your lower jaw protrudes further than normal. Underbites can cause many of the same problems as an overbite, but can often be traced back to childhood habits. Thumb sucking, using a pacifier, using your tongue to push on your teeth, and long term feeding from a bottle are all common causes for an underbite. This is why we recommend getting your children in to see an orthodontist at a young age! Below is an image depicting what to look for in a bad bite.
Your Child is Mouth Breathing
Although this sign might not seem to be an obvious orthodontic issue, mouth breathing can cause serious damage. If your child is constantly breathing in an abnormal way where the air is passing directly into the lungs and not through the nose, it is a great time to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist.
Mouth breathing can cause irregular facial growth, chronic ear infections, sleep disturbances, upper airway infections, and deformed jaw bones which in return can cause more orthodontic problems. This issue can become habitual and can get harder to break as your child gets older, so it is important to correct this at an early age.
Your Child is Never too Old to see the Orthodontist!
Braces, Invisalign, and other orthodontic treatments work for people of all ages. If your child has already surpassed the age of 7 there’s no need to worry, you can schedule an appointment at any time. The main difference between younger versus older patients is that the jawbones of children and teenagers are still growing.
Being proactive and scheduling appointments while your children are still young can mitigate the need for surgery to align the jaw bones, however it’s never too late to explore your treatment options. So go ahead and schedule an appointment for both you and your child today!