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Why is Early Orthodontic Treatment Important?

Your child’s health and happiness are important to you. That’s why you try to make sure they get enough exercise and eat healthy snacks. You should also be concerned about their oral health. Strong teeth, healthy gums and a beautiful smile start with regular visits to the dentist. TheAmerican Dental Association says this should begin within six months of the first baby teeth emerging and no later than age 1.

In addition to seeing the dentist from infancy, theAmerican Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children meet with an orthodontist no later than age 7 for a check-up. By this age, an orthodontist can identify subtle problems that can be easier to correct when found early. If you notice the presence of an orthodontic problem prior to age 7, don’t hesitate toschedule an appointment for your child at Speaks Orthodontics any time.

Why 7 Years Old is the Right Age

By age 7, your child has lost enough baby teeth for an orthodontist to determine if any bite or tooth alignment problems are present or developing among the permanent teeth. Putting off a check-up until all the permanent teeth have come in could be a disservice to your child. After all, some problems are easier to treat before the face and jaws have finished growing.

Determining the Right Time for Treatment

Many orthodontic treatments begin between ages 9 and 14. If the Dr. Speaks determines your child needs treatment, but it’s not yet time, you can receive a recommended timeline. This is a much better option than being surprised with a sudden need for treatment later down the road.

Still, some children benefit from earlier treatment. Dr. Speaks may decide to pursue orthodontic correction for the following reasons:

  • Guide jaw growth
  • Guide permanent teeth to a better position
  • Lower trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Correct damaging oral habits, such as thumb-sucking
  • Improve the way the lips meet
  • Improve appearance and self-esteem

Watching for Signs of Orthodontic Problems

As your child gets all her baby teeth and some of her permanent teeth, be on the lookout for signs of orthodontic problems:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth: Stay up-to-date with child oral development stages. For instance, all primary teeth should have erupted by the time your child is 2 or 3 years old. Also, shortly after turning 4, your child’s jaw will grow and spaces will develop between the baby teeth. This is a natural growth process to make room for larger permanent teeth.
  • Difficulty chewing or biting: If your child ever complains that it hurts to eat, that’s a sign she has a bite problem and needs to see an orthodontist.
  • Breathing through the mouth: This could mean your child feels at ease with her jaw in a more open position than is desirable.
  • Unbalanced facial appearance: A crooked, protruding or retrusive chin could indicate a bite problem.
  • Thumb-sucking: During the first few years, sucking on a pacifier, bottle or thumb won’t hurt your child’s oral health. However, if the habit continues after baby teeth start falling out, bite problems could develop.
  • Crooked teeth: Ask to check your child’s teeth every few months. Look for crowded, misplaced or protruding teeth that could signify the need for braces.
  • Bite problems: While you’re having a close look at your child’s teeth, ask her to bite down. Overbites, under bites, open bites and cross bites are easier to correct when the jaw is still growing.
  • Teeth grinding or clenching: Have a sleepover in your child’s room one night. If you wake up to squeaking or grinding sounds coming from your child’s mouth, she grinds her teeth in her sleep. This can cause tooth, gum and bite problems but can be easily corrected with a mouth guard.

If you’re ready to start your child down the road to a beautiful, healthy smile, please contactSpeaks Orthodontics online or call us at (720) 513-3743 to schedule a check-up.