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5 Reasons for Early Orthodontic Assessment
Posted on February 13th, 2022
When most people think of braces, an image of a teenager with a mouthful of metal comes to mind. Most people who need orthodontics get braces in their early to mid-teens, but Caring Tree Children’s Dentistry, Inc. would like to share several reasons why early orthodontic assessment and even treatment can be a good idea.
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends children have their first orthodontic evaluation at age seven, because an orthodontist can determine early signs of bite issues at this time. Lincoln & Grass Valley dentist Dr. Michelle Kucera lists five reasons for earlier orthodontic treatment below:
Thumb sucking is a normal way for infants to self-soothe. However, extended thumb sucking (past the age of 3) can significantly impact the growth and development of the palate and teeth, changing the eruption and alignment of the permanent teeth. The Mayo Clinic suggests several strategies to help your child break the habit, including positive reinforcement through rewards or simply a kind reminder of what they are doing to bring their attention to their behavior. If you notice your child sucks their thumb at the same time every day or during certain activities, work to avoid those triggers if possible. If triggers can’t be avoided, a gentle reminder can be effective.
Chronic mouth breathing can be a sign of abnormal development of the oral cavity or sinuses or even a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea doesn’t just affect health, it affects behavior. If a child isn’t getting quality sleep, they might:
Fall asleep during the day
Have difficulty concentrating
Have mood swings
Have problems in school
If Dr. Kucera knows your child is having trouble, they can recommend a solution. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if your child exhibits any of these issues.
If your child has severe crossbite (upper teeth close inside the bottom teeth), early orthodontic intervention can be helpful. Typically, a palate expander will be suggested. A palate expander is placed in the upper palate and slowly widens the palate. If placed earlier in life when the palate is still developing, more extensive and difficult treatment down the road can be alleviated.
Overcrowding occurs when the palate is too small to support all of a child’s permanent teeth. When there isn’t enough room, teeth push on each other and become crowded. If addressed early, a palate expander or tooth extraction can help make room for permanent teeth.
If a child has an overbite or underbite, early orthodontic treatment can be helpful. Protruding front teeth are more prone to chipping and other injury. They may also cause children to have lower self-esteem and confidence. Braces may be a solution to move the teeth back in place, solving both the health and aesthetic issues.
An underbite can also cause issues with normal functions of eating and speaking. Earlier correction can help kids develop normal speech patterns and a more aligned bite.
The Bottom Line
It may not cross your mind to take your child to see an orthodontist or ask your dentist about orthodontics before your child is a teenager, but it may be best for their long-term health to take an early approach to assessment and treatment. If you have questions about your child’s oral health, contact us today—we’d love to help!
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.