Orthodontic Treatment for Children
It is important for young children to undergo orthodontic screening between the age of 7-9 years. This screening helps to identify developing bite or jaw problems; by having the assessment completed early, it may be treated early and does not allow the condition to worsen or create more complex treatment in the future.
If my child starts orthodontic treatment now, will they still needs braces later?
The aim of early treatment is to address any underlying jaw problems. By having treatment completed earlier, it makes future orthodontic treatment with braces simpler. It is important to note that while braces move teeth, it does not correct the underlying jaw structure. Often through correcting the jaw structure, it allows us to position the teeth into their correct positions, creating the ideal smile.
In late teens and adults, correcting this same jaw structure when the bones have hardened could mean jaw surgery may be required, with additional costs, time and complexity of treatment. In other words, early orthodontic treatment does not prevent braces, but it allows your child to attain ideal smile outcomes.
Treatment can be something simple, like wearing a plate or having an expander, which all help to prevent the crowding from worsening as more adult teeth develop.
7 conditions early orthodontic treatment aims to correct:
- Small lower jaws or chins: Often, you may find your child finds it hard to close their lips together and their lower lip gets trapped behind the upper front teeth. Our patients have previously reported being teased at school, or feeling very insecure because of their ‘buck teeth’ The upper front teeth can be at increased risk of injury from contact sports or games.
- Large lower jaws or small upper jaw or ‘Underbite’: You can see this in a child where the lower front teeth are biting infront of the upper teeth, this is commonly referred to as an underbite. This is one of the most important reasons to undergo early treatment, as it can reduce the need for further extensive treatment, i.e. jaw surgery. Early treatment before the age of 10 proves to have the best success.
- Narrow upper jaw: One of the more obvious signs are upper crowded front teeth. The more narrow the upper jaw, the more important it is to be managed early. You may observe your child frequently has a blocked nose, and as a result, breathes through his/her mouth. Our patient’s parents, often report an improvement in breathing through their nose after having an upper expander.
- Early loss of baby teeth: When a child loses their baby teeth earlier, either through decay/abscess or trauma; the now open space can allow the space to begin closing, and as a result, the adult tooth does not have enough room to erupt through.
- Biting top teeth directly onto the bottom teeth, ‘Edge to Edge’: One or several of the upper adult front teeth biting into the edges of the lower front teeth, causing permanent teeth wear. Leaving this till all the adult teeth have erupted in the mid-teens or later can lead to uneven wear of the front teeth edges, that may mean additional cosmetic dental treatment.
- Prolonged Thumb Sucking: These habits if still present after the age of four can lead to jaw and teeth problems developing, most noticeably an overbite forming between the front teeth.
- Other conditions ie: extra teeth, impacted teeth: Sometimes, it may be obvious, ie: say the tooth on right side has erupted, but the one on the left side has been absent for a while. At other times, the presence of this can only be picked up though having an x-ray taken of the teeth.