October is National Ortho Month: How Do I Know If My Child Needs Braces?

Gentle Dental

While the best age for a child to get braces varies for each patient, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children be seen by an orthodontist around the age of 7. While treatment is rarely needed at this age, a preventative consultation with an orthodontist will help you and your child develop a plan for the future. 

While your orthodontist will be able to detect issues that may not be currently visible to you, there are some indications that your child may need braces: 

  1. Early, Late, or Irregular Loss of Baby Teeth – Between the ages of 7 and 14, your child is most likely to have some or all of their permanent teeth. Since dental growth and development problems are best treated early, it’s important to take your child for regular dental check-ups to monitor potential alignment and spacing problems. Losing baby teeth too early or too late can cause teeth to shift into incorrect alignment.
  2. Crowded or Misaligned Teeth – Teeth crowding is the most common reason why parents seek orthodontic treatment for their children. If crowding is left untreated, your child may have difficulty flossing and brushing. Over time, this can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and bone loss around affected teeth.
  3. Abnormal Bites – An abnormal bite refers to the way your child’s upper and lower teeth align together when their mouth is closed. There are four types of abnormal bites that require orthodontic treatment: overbite, underbite, crossbite, and openbite. Abnormal bites can lead to health issues including gum recession, fractured teeth, and difficulty chewing or speaking.
  4. Difficulty in Chewing or Biting – Misaligned teeth can affect your child’s ability to properly eat. If your child is often biting their tongue or the insides of their cheeks, their bite or teeth alignment may need to be corrected.
  5. Mouth or Jaw Pain – If your child is experiencing mouth or jaw pain, book an immediate appointment with your dentist. He or she will be able to determine what is causing the discomfort. If an underlying orthodontic condition is present, your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist.
  6. Speech Difficulty – Misaligned teeth can contribute to speech difficulty. If your child is having trouble pronouncing certain words, it may be time to book an appointment with your dentist.

During your child’s first visit, the orthodontist will examine your child’s bite and teeth to determine if he or she is a candidate for braces. Depending on your child’s orthodontic condition and age, they may recommend the treatment be done in phases. In some cases a removable appliance or expander is recommended for phase 1 instead of braces, but by doing this early on, phase 2 treatment with braces tends to be much more efficient.

Final Word: Ultimately, the orthodontist will be able to determine whether or not your child has an orthodontic condition that requires braces. As a parent, you should ensure your child is having dental checkups twice a year and keep an eye out for any of the signs that your child may need orthodontic treatment. To schedule a free orthodontic consultation, please call <brand name> today.