Not so long ago, braces were seen as a kind of rite of passage for tweens and teens. These days, however, patients of all ages are benefiting from orthodontic treatment, including kids. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children receive an evaluation by about the age of 7!
Why? There’s usually a good mix of primary and permanent teeth present by this time, offering a glimpse at any current or potential orthodontic issues. We can use this to our advantage! Correcting or improving these problems in the early stages can simplify or even eliminate future treatment. To learn more about the benefits of early orthodontic evaluations, keep reading below.
Early childhood evaluations with Icon Orthodontics
When you schedule a complimentary consultation for your child with our Surprise or Glendale office, we have two skilled orthodontists on hand to assess the development of their smile. Dr. Sarpotdar or Dr. Sun will examine your child’s mouth, looking at their bite, jaw growth, oral habits, and the eruption of their permanent teeth to determine if early treatment is recommended.
Even if immediate treatment isn’t necessary, these evaluations are still valuable!
Most children will develop all their permanent teeth between the ages of 11 and 13. By the end of their teen years, the jaw bone hardens and stops growing. Orthodontic treatment after this point can take more time and involve more serious measures like tooth extraction or oral surgery.
Early treatment can help patients avoid invasive procedures like these. If additional work is needed in their teen or adult years, the total treatment time may be significantly reduced. This proactive approach makes comprehensive treatment faster and more effective, and also gives children the benefit of a healthier smile as they grow! Let’s take a look at some of the common issues our doctors will be looking for when you schedule an orthodontic evaluation for your child.
Tooth loss and eruption
Baby teeth usually fall out in a fairly specific order. If your child deviates from this pattern, it may signal a developmental issue that needs our attention. By the age of seven, most children will have at least four permanent molars and two to four permanent incisors. If your child has more or less than this, it could be due to missing, crowded, or extra teeth.
Problems with crowding or spacing
By the time a child is seven, their first adult molars are coming in, which helps establish the back bite. This allows an orthodontist to assess it front-to-back and side-to-side, identifying any problems with excessive crowding or spacing. These may include premature tooth loss, teeth that are too small, and those that are spaced too close or too far apart.
Misaligned teeth and jaws
Crooked teeth are more difficult to clean, increasing a child’s chances of developing cavities and tooth decay. They’re also susceptible to uneven damage and wear, which may compromise the shape and position of the surrounding gum tissue. In addition, these misalignments can cause discomfort, headaches, and a variety of other symptoms.
Front teeth that noticeably protrude are often seen as a cosmetic concern, but they can also increase the risk of injury to a child’s permanent teeth and may even affect how they speak. Although we can’t permanently correct an overbite until the child’s mouth has finished growing, we can help reduce the severity of the issue in the meantime.
With an underbite, the lower jaw grows too far forward. This can develop due to problems with either the teeth or jaws. As with an overbite, we’ll usually need to wait until the patient has finished growing to permanently correct the problem. That being said, early treatment can still prevent bite shifting or damage to the front teeth! Children who receive early treatment for an underbite tend to be much less likely to need jaw surgery when they get older.
A posterior crossbite can lead to crowding or cause the jaw to shift to one side. Some crossbites can also cause asymmetrical growth of the lower jaw, leading to permanent facial deformities if not corrected at a younger age. In cases like these, we do not recommend waiting until all the permanent teeth have emerged to begin treatment.
Anterior open bites and deep bites
A deep bite can indicate a small lower jaw, with the child’s top teeth covering the bottom ones when biting. With an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough. The latter can be caused by destructive oral habits like extended thumb sucking, bottle feeding, or pacifier use. Our team is happy to work with parents to help eliminate these types of habits early on, allowing the child’s dental development to continue normally.
Get your child’s smile off to a great start with Icon Orthodontics
If you have a child around seven years of age, this is the perfect time to schedule their first orthodontic evaluation! Setting up regular visits with an orthodontist now can save them extra visits in the future, and if any problems are present, we can get a head start on treating them.
The team here at Icon Orthodontics is skilled, caring, and eager to help your child achieve their best smile. Our extensive experience working with children ensures young patients feel comfortable during their first visit to our Surprise or Glendale office—and at every visit after that, too! Get in touch today to schedule your child’s FREE consultation and take the first step towards a lifetime of healthy smiles.