When you think about orthodontia, you may picture the awkwardness of puberty and classic metal braces. While many patients do not start orthodontic treatment until adolescence, the signs that this procedure is needed are often evident much earlier.
In fact, many orthodontists provide preliminary consultations to patients as young as six or seven. In this blog, we list eight characteristics that may indicate that your child will likely need braces or another form of orthodontic treatment to achieve their best smile.
- Abnormal Tooth Loss
Normal baby tooth loss is an important physical milestone that prepares your child’s mouth for healthy adult teeth. However, many children experience abnormal tooth loss. This issue may include retaining teeth as adult teeth start to erupt, losing teeth extremely early, or losing teeth due to oral trauma. Abnormal tooth loss can lead to misalignment that may require orthodontia to correct.
Bruxism, which includes the clenching and grinding of the teeth, is highly common in elementary school–aged children. While most children grow out of this habit, even a short period of bruxism can put so much pressure on the teeth that it changes their bite or alignment — necessitating braces.
- Facial Asymmetry
In some cases, the need for orthodontia is evident even when you can’t actually see your child’s teeth. If you notice that your child’s face appears uneven due to asymmetrical tooth positioning, then your child likely has a crossbite or another bite problem that will require orthodontic treatment.
- Frequent Soft Tissue Injuries
When the teeth are poorly positioned in the mouth, a child may accidentally cause frequent soft tissue injuries. If your child has a history of biting their cheeks and tongue, the issue may lie with oversized adult teeth or misalignment, both of which can require orthodontia.
- Jaw Issues
Jaw issues, such as difficulty opening the mouth or noises when doing so, can develop at any age. However, if your child exhibits these issues early on, then they likely have an underlying jaw or bite alignment problem that will likely lead to other dental issues if left untreated.
- Lip Biting or Thumb Sucking
Like bruxism, many children develop lip biting and finger sucking habits. These habits stem from the mouth movements infants use when eating, but if they continue for too long after infancy, then the habits can pull your child’s upper teeth forward and push the lower teeth back. Overbites and underbites often necessitate braces.
- Mouth Breathing or Snoring
Mouth breathing and snoring can occur for a number of reasons, many of which are related to your child’s oral health. If you notice these breathing issues, then have your child assessed for any potential respiratory problems. If your child’s respiratory system is normal, then the source of the problem is probably their teeth.
Mouth breathing and sleeping openmouthed, which often results in snoring, can significantly increase your child’s risk of tooth decay because it affects saliva production and allows for excess bacterial growth. An orthodontist will identify the underlying issue and recommend treatment to resolve the root of the problem.
- Problems With Speech or Eating
Many early oral issues that eventually lead to orthodontic treatment cause problems with daily habits, like speaking and eating. If your child seems to have difficulties in these areas, then discuss their symptoms with a pediatric dentist to determine if orthodontia could help make your child more comfortable.
If your child exhibits any combination of the signs listed above, talk to their pediatric dentist as well as an orthodontist to determine the best steps for your child’s orthodontic journey. For expert dental care, including orthodontic treatment, trust our team at Crest Hill Family Dental.