Most children get braces at one point in their life before becoming adults. Braces go beyond basic oral hygiene and health to ensure proper jaw alignment and functionality. Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to clean, decreasing the danger of periodontal conditions like tooth decay and gum disease. Improperly aligned teeth are common in minors. Accidents, dental disease, pediatric behaviors, and inheritance are the most common causes of children’s improper jaw and teeth alignment.
As a parent, you are likely to spot some irregularities with your child’s teeth, and it is essential to see your child’s dentist and explain everything. An experienced orthodontist should be able to tell you if your child needs braces or other dental procedures. The American Association of Orthodontics advises parents to take their young ones to a dentist before the age of seven. Even though treatment may not commence immediately, a preventative consultation is essential.
How to Know if My Child Needs Braces
There is no time limit to when a child can get braces. But most children start their orthodontic treatment from 7 to 14 years since this is when their adult teeth begin to develop. Some orthodontic problems are inherited, and some develop due to:
- Poor oral hygiene in kids
- Poor nutrition
- When children suck their fingers or pacifiers for long
- When kids breathe through their mouth
In most cases, your orthodontist will not recommend any type of treatment during your first visit. Most prefer using the approach of “wait-and-see.” But this does not mean that you should wait till later. If you notice any abnormalities with your child’s teeth, ensure you seek immediate help from your dentist and orthodontics.
If your child is a teen and does not feel comfortable with how their teeth are aligned, they could have braces but first, ensure to consult with your orthodontist. You should also ensure that you create a routine of visiting your child’s dentist at least every six months. This will also help diagnose any problem at an early age, and the dentist would also advise you on the best age for your child to have braces if need be.
Signs that your Child Needs Braces
Every child is different, and there is no specific age for a child to develop orthodontic problems. But as a parent, you should visit your child’s dentist regularly to ensure that their teeth development and oral health are in order. The dentist will be able to examine your child’s growing teeth and could verse a problem and attend to it before it turns into a bigger problem.
Some kids develop orthodontic problems at the age of five, while others develop at thirteen years. Here are a few signs and symptoms that you should look out for as a parent:
- Overlapping teeth — Most kids have an overbite where their top teeth overlap the bottom ones, which is completely normal. But, if your child has an ‘extensive’ overbite, where you cannot see their lower teeth if they bite down, you should see an orthodontist to avoid dental problems like premature tooth wear.
- Crooked teeth — This is one of the most common reasons why children get braces. There are various reasons why your child’s teeth are crooked. Some of which include:
- Insufficient jaw space to accommodate adult teeth
- It may be time for their permanent teeth to pop out, but their baby teeth are still in place.
Crooked teeth can lead to other dental problems like tooth decay since cleaning them can be a challenge to the child. It is essential to see an orthodontist as soon as you notice that your child has crooked teeth so that they can take the necessary actions to put them back in place.
- Top teeth protruding over the bottom teeth — Overjet (where the upper teeth of your child jet out extensively over the bottom teeth) is normal, but if your child has extensive overjet, it is essential to seek help from an experienced orthodontist. If your child has extensive overjet, when they get hit on the face or fall, it will cause trauma to their upper front teeth since they will be impacted first. In such cases, the orthodontist may recommend braces or extractions after examining the child’s teeth.
- Crossbites — A child is said to have a crossbite when their teeth on both sides fail to meet. For instance, when a child closes their mouth, the top and bottom teeth on the sides should line up, and if they don’t, your child could have a crossbite. If this is left untreated, it could make their teeth wear unevenly. You should visit an orthodontist to help align the teeth with either braces or other medical procedures, depending on their cause.
- Underbites — Children are said to have underbites when their bottom teeth overlap their top teeth. It is essential to seek help from an experienced orthodontist to help you align your child’s teeth. Underbites are treated the same as overbites.
- Open Bites — If the top front teeth and the bottom front teeth do not touch, your child could have an open bite. This type of dental problem not only affects your child’s speech but could also make it hard for them to bite or chew food. Although this could be a genetic problem, thumb-sucking and prolonged use of pacifiers can cause open bites.
- Too many spaces between teeth — Teeth spacing should be even; too much spacing or no spacing at all (crowded teeth) could cause dental problems to your child if left untreated. Your orthodontist may use braces or other dental procedures to ensure that your child’s teeth are properly aligned.
- Pain in the jaw or mouth — Not all dental problems are visible; some can be detected by how your child feels. Pain in the mouth or jaw means that there may be an orthodontic that needs attention. If your child is experiencing pain in their mouth or jaw, it is essential to visit a dentist and an orthodontist to determine the cause of the pain because it could be caused by a defect in the tooth's arrangement.
- Speech problems — Various things, including improper teeth alignment, can cause speech problems in children. It is essential to seek help from a speech pathologist and an orthodontist if your child has speech difficulties or is struggling to utter certain words.
- Biting or chewing difficulties — Your child may experience eating problems if their teeth are misaligned. You can easily notice this if your child keeps biting the inside part of their cheek or tongue while eating. Visit an orthodontist to examine your child’s teeth because they could have crooked teeth or their bite could be off.
- Breathing with their mouth — Children who use their mouth for breathing will often have their mouth open, which will likely affect the growth of their teeth and their facial appearance. Usually, the tongue is supposed to rest at the roof of the mouth, and since breathing using their mouth does not allow the tongue to rest at its required position, your child may have a longer face with very narrow jaws. As a result, there may be no space for adult teeth.
- Early or late baby teeth loss — Children tend to lose their baby teeth at around 5-6 years. Losing their baby teeth earlier may cause their adult teeth to grow in the empty spaces, and losing them too late may lead to teeth misalignment. If you notice that your child has either lost their teeth early or late, you should visit an orthodontist to help avoid alignment issues.
- Teeth grinding — Tooth grinding, which mainly happens at night, can signify tooth alignment problems. If you notice any grinding of your child’s teeth, you should visit your orthodontist to prevent more teeth alignment problems and further jaw shift and damage.
- Jaw clicking or shifting — If you notice any clicking or shifting jaws, it may be a sign that your child has teeth alignment issues, and it is advisable to seek help from your orthodontist.
Do I Need Braces Quiz
Even after the symptoms and learning how your child feels, as a parent, you are likely to still have concerns on whether your child needs braces. To help with that, we have put down the Do I Need Braces Quiz to help you make a better decision. Have your child take this quiz, or you can take it together with them to know if you need to visit an orthodontist soon.
Are Some of Your Teeth Crooked?
- Yes, they are awful
- Kind of
- No, they are perfect
Do you have an Overbite?
- Not at all
- Yes, it is serious
- Yes, a small one
Are your Teeth Crowded?
- Yes, they are overcrowded.
- No, they are perfect
- No, I have gaps between my teeth
- Just a little bit
Do you have an Underbite?
- Not at all
- Yes, it is severe
- Yes, but a small one
Are there any Spaces Between your Teeth?
- Yes, I have small gaps.
- Yes, they are huge
- No, my teeth are crowded
- My teeth have perfect spacing in between
Do you have a misaligned jaw?
- No, my jaw alignment is perfect
- A little bit, it does not bother me
- Yes, my teeth are misaligned
- I do not know what that means.
Do your Teeth Turn in or Out?
- Not at all
- A few of them do
- Yes, a significant number do
Has any Dentist Recommended you to See an Orthodontist?
- No one has.
- Yes, my dentist advised me to see an orthodontist
- No, but I feel like I need to consult an orthodontist
- Yes, my dentist recommended me, but I do not see the need to visit an orthodontist
(kids only) How Do Your Parents’ Teeth Look?
- I am not sure
- My parents’ teeth are misaligned, crooked, crowded, or have large spaces in between
- My parents’ teeth are perfect
- One parent has perfect teeth, but the other one has misaligned teeth
Do You Have Any Difficulties Chewing Food?
- No, I do not have any difficulty when chewing food
- Yes, I always find it difficult to chew food
- Yes, sometimes it is hard for me to chew food
Do you Feel Pain in Your Jaw or Mouth When Eating?
- No, I do not feel any pain when eating
- Yes, I sometimes feel pain in my jaw when eating
- Yes, I always feel pain in my jaw when eating
Does Your Jaw Shift or Make Sounds?
- No, my jaw does not shift or make any sounds
- Yes, my jaw shifts and also makes sounds
- Yes, but my jaw only makes sounds
- Yes, but my jaw only shifts
Do you ever bite the inside part of your Cheek Unintentionally?
- No, that never happens.
- Yes, I sometimes bite the inside part of my cheek accidentally
- Yes, I always bite the inside part of my check unintentionally
Do you like your Smile?
- No, I hate my smile
- No, but my smile is not that bad
- Yes, but I wish it was better
- Yes, I love my smile
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions apart from question 14, there is a possibility that you could benefit from braces. Consult your orthodontist for more guidance.
What are the Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment?
An early orthodontic visit can help you diagnose an early test misalignment and give the orthodontist a chance to correct it before it becomes severe and causes other dental problems. Braces do more than just teeth alignment; they help straighten your child’s teeth, boost their self-esteem and appearance and give them healthy teeth with a beautiful smile. Early orthodontic diagnosis and treatment are ideal. Here is why:
- Preserve or create space for developing teeth
- Reduce tooth wear by reducing grinding
- Reduce the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
- Help to prevent gum disease and cavities by improved oral hygiene
- Influence positive growth of the jaws
- Improve the ability to chew food and a better speech
- Improve dental arches width
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Reduce the likeliness of progressive tooth shifting
- Guide permanent teeth into the right positions
- Reduce possible damage to jaw joints
- Improve self-confidence and image
What is the Best Type of Braces for my Child?
After determining that your child needs braces and getting the go-ahead from your orthodontist, the next step is to choose the kind of braces to help your child get healthy teeth and a perfect smile. Below are some major options of orthodontic care:
Most parents may remember traditional metal braces being huge and uncomfortable, but technology has made them neater, smaller, and more comfortable. They are also fun for kids because they can be customized to different colors.
Traditional metal braces are the most commonly used braces in children, and they are also very affordable. They offer teeth straightening for all alignment problems effectively within 18- 24 months.
Ceramic braces have the same functionality as metal braces but have a different appearance. Ceramic braces are clear and tooth-colored, making them less noticeable.
They are made of materials that have the same color as the teeth, making them blend well. They are more expensive than metal braces, but they are perfect for children who are not confident with orthodontic treatment.
This system can be used by minors above 11 years who have lost all their baby teeth. This is a different orthodontic method of straightening teeth compared to the rest. When using this method, you will not have clear, removable aligners placed in your mouth to help align teeth in the correct position.
There are many benefits associated with this system, including:
- You can remove the aligners for two to four hours a day
- The aligners are invisible. They are also known as the invisible braces
- You can clean your teeth normally even with the aligners on
- Their design leaves room for new popping teeth
But one has to remove the aligners when drinking or eating anything apart from water to avoid tooth decay and discoloration.
These are almost similar to the metal braces and they are fixed using wires that are tucked behind the teeth and close to the tongue. They are barely noticeable when fixed in this position. They are perfect for children who do not want their braces visible but the treatment takes longer unlike any other type of braces.
They are also perfect for children with smaller teeth, and they are the most expensive option.
Find an Orthodontist For my Child Near Me
Braces are a perfect way of fixing tooth misalignment. Ensure you schedule an orthodontist appointment for your child once you notice any of the above signs to avoid more tooth decay and pain. At Tarzana Dental Care, we specialize in Dentistry and Orthodontics. Our skilled and friendly staff will do their best to ensure that your child gets the perfect smile they deserve. Call us today at 818-708-3232 to make an appointment if you are in Tarzana, California.