As a parent, you want the best for your child. That includes a beautiful smile and a bite that functions as it should! Lifetime Orthodontics can help achieve these goals thanks to early treatment using a range of specialized appliances. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though! The first step in any orthodontic journey is an orthodontic consultation to evaluate the bone structure, tooth position, and airway; the AAO recommends this evaluation by age 7. Let’s look at what you can expect from these evaluations and how we use them to set the stage for a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime!
Why are early childhood evaluations necessary?
Some parents are confused by the AAO recommendation since a young child’s mouth is still developing and many of the teeth are still baby teeth. . This is the perfect time for an early evaluation as Dr. Wesley can actually influence the growth patterns if necessary, and detect airway issues as early as possible.
This approach can prevent orthodontic problems from damaging your child’s teeth and bite as they grow. Early evaluations and timely treatment go a long way toward giving kids the best chance at a lifetime of healthy smiles!
What will your orthodontist be looking for during an evaluation?
Tooth loss and eruption.
Many parents underestimate the importance of baby teeth., These baby teeth are the placeholders for permanent teeth. That means where they’re located and when they’re lost matters more than you may think!
Baby teeth also tend to fall out in a fairly specific order. If Dr. Wesley notices a significant deviation from this pattern, it could mean a developmental issue that needs further attention.
As far as eruption goes, most kids will have at least four permanent molars and up to four permanent incisors by the time they’re seven. When a child has more or less than this, it could indicate that there are missing, crowded, or extra teeth. These may require additional monitoring by your orthodontist.
Crowding and spacing
If your child has problems with excessive crowding or spacing, Dr. Wesley can determine if this is likely an issue now or in the future. We often see spacing issues arise from a tooth being lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or when the teeth are too small or narrow. If crowding is causing a problem, extracting certain primary teeth can help. In more severe cases, dental arch development and expansion may be useful.
Crooked teeth can pose quite a few challenges for children. They’re more difficult to brush and floss than straight teeth and more susceptible to uneven wear. This can compromise the surrounding gum tissue if left untreated and could eventually change the shape and position of the gum line. While we can successfully align teeth at almost any age, correcting certain malocclusions while a child grows can make treatment faster and more effective.
When a child has front teeth that noticeably protrude, it’s primarily seen as a cosmetic concern. However, the effects of an overbite go beyond appearances and may lead to jaw pain, excessive wear and tear to the teeth, and interrupted speech patterns.
We will typically want to wait until a child’s mouth has matured before attempting to correct an overbite. In the meantime, there are several treatment options at Lifetime Orthodontics for reducing the risk of pain and traumatic injury as they grow! These corrective measures can also improve a child’s self-esteem by giving them more confidence in their smile.
If your child has an underbite, Dr. Wesley will first need to determine whether it’s caused by a problem with the eruption of the teeth or by the jaw relationship. That may mean waiting until they are almost finished growing before we begin comprehensive treatment.
The good news is we can take earlier measures to help avoid damage to the front teeth and encourage skeletal correction!
A posterior crossbite can cause several issues, including crowding and reduced airway function. It may also cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other. When we can expand the upper jaw in earlier childhood, it tends to require less pressure with less invasive appliances. The results may be more predictable, too. Treatment can help eliminate shifts in the bite that lead to asymmetric (lopsided) jaw growth. It can also reduce crowding and create space for permanent teeth to erupt.
What does the timing for early treatment look like?
Early treatment with our expert team can help intercept and prevent more serious problems from developing. This may make treatment at a later age a shorter and less complicated process. Sometimes, Dr. Wesley can achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Dr. Wesley has the skills and experience to choose the best time for your child’s treatment, should they need it. Children receive braces at different times, but orthodontic treatment often begins between 9 and 14 years old. Dr. Wesley will never start your child’s treatment earlier than necessary!
As noted above, some problems are easier to correct if they’re diagnosed and treated early. Starting treatment at the most appropriate time will give Dr. Wesley the best chance to:
- guide jaw growth
- lower the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- correct harmful oral habits
- Identify and improve airway issues
- improve your child’s appearance and increase their self-confidence
- guide the permanent teeth into a more favorable position
- create a more pleasing arrangement of the teeth, lips, and face
Set your child up for a healthy smile from Lifetime Orthodontics
It can be challenging to tell when your child may need braces or has an orthodontic problem. Even teeth that look straight may be hiding a problematic bite! However, there are some clues you can keep an eye out for that may indicate the need for orthodontic attention. These include:
- early or late loss of baby teeth
- difficulty chewing or biting
- breathing through the mouth
- crowded, misplaced, or blocked-out teeth
- jaws that are too far forward or back
- biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
- protruding teeth
- upper and lower teeth that don’t meet (or meet abnormally)
- an unbalanced facial appearance
- grinding or clenching of the teeth
If your child has one or more of these dental issues, an orthodontic evaluation with Dr. Wesley is the first place to start! We’d also love to meet you if it’s time for your child’s first orthodontic visit. The recommendation may be as simple as semi-annual growth guidance appointments that are done at no charge.
Schedule a FREE consultation with our Clinton Township or Grosse Pointe office today. We look forward to helping your child achieve their happiest, healthiest smile!