Malocclusions are fairly common in children (as well as adults). While some malocclusions are so minor that no treatment would provide a demonstrable benefit, serious malocclusions may require intervention in the form of appliances such as braces.
For this reason, regular Orthodontic checkups are critical (no later than age 7) because they provide an opportunity for an Orthodontic professional to spot small problems before they become big ones. During an exam, Orthodontist may be able to determine if the child's jaws are growing properly and at the same rate.
A EXAM MAY BE REQUIRED IF:
If your child has any of the following symptoms, a more detailed orthodontic exam may be called for:
- "Loose" jaws that can be easily shifted around or make popping noises when opening or closing
- Abnormal bite relationship (teeth that don't match up well when biting)
- Baby teeth that are lost too early or too late
- Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
- Breathing through the mouth excessively (instead of through the nose)
- Disproportionate teeth or jaws
- Problems with biting down or chewing food
- Teeth that have become crowded, knocked out or in the wrong place
- Thumb-sucking or finger-sucking
Benefits of early treatment in children:
Here are just some of the benefits of catching problems early:
- Avoiding impacted teeth
- Avoiding more costly and lengthy orthodontic treatments in later life
- Avoiding soft tissue and palate injuries from protruding teeth
- Bad habits like thumb or finger sucking can be corrected
- Correcting breathing, speaking, swallowing or eating problems
- Creating space for newly erupting or future erupting teeth
- Erupting teeth and jaws can be gently glided into their correct positions
As Your Child Grows
Orthodontists employ a wide variety of "growth modification" techniques to help nature correct problems as your child grows. Orthodontic appliances can do wonders as your child develops. For example, an appliance may stave off problems with an upper or lower jaw that isn't growing at the same rate as the other, or correct problems that are creating difficulties with chewing or swallowing. Whatever the cause, orthodontic treatment during your child's development will reap substantial dividends in adult life, including avoidance of extraction of permanent teeth and possible surgery, improved oral health and improved self-esteem.
Keep in mind that orthodontic treatment involves a firm commitment from the child, as well as the parent. The kinds of changes such treatment is designed for sometimes take years to fully realize their benefit. Also bear in mind that even the most dedicated commitment is no guarantee of permanent results. Nature sometimes has a way of taking over, and in limited cases, relapses can occur later on.