According to the American Association of Orthodontists, all children should see an orthodontist for the first time no later than age 7. However, in some cases, orthodontic treatment may be necessary earlier. Read on to learn about early orthodontic intervention, orthodontic treatments for children, and signs your child needs to be seen by an orthodontist.
Early Symptoms of Orthodontic Problems
By the time your child is in second grade, they should see an orthodontist for an evaluation. There are, however, exceptions. Your pediatric dentist may inform you that your child needs interceptive orthodontics. Other symptoms that your child may need to begin orthodontic treatment earlier than age 7 include:
- Early loss of primary (baby teeth)
- Late loss of primary teeth
- Struggles with chewing
- Mouth breathing (while awake and asleep)
- Snoring or sleep apnea
- Protruding upper jaw
- Sunken lower jaw
- Crowded teeth
- Jaw dysfunction
- Long-term thumb or finger sucking
While some of these conditions may not require immediate treatment, it is best to have an orthodontist evaluate your child, as some problems that cause symptoms in childhood may extend into adulthood. Fortunately, most interceptive orthodontic treatments are painless, non-invasive, and incredibly effective.
Interceptive Orthodontics: Treatments for Kids
Four primary interceptive orthodontic treatments can correct most conditions in children. They include:
The palate is the roof of the mouth and determines the size of your child’s upper jaw. Before puberty, the palate is two halves. Before fusing around the time of puberty, the palate is extremely malleable. This makes it the perfect time to expand it. Your child may need a palatal expander device to prevent a host of problems including crowded teeth, crossbite, or impacted teeth.
Palatal expanders are also effective treatments for children who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and snoring caused by a narrow airway. Furthermore, palatal expanders can serve as a habit-breaking treatment for children who habitually suck their fingers or thumb.
A space maintainer may be recommended for children who have lost baby teeth early. A space maintainer is an oral appliance that prevents adjacent teeth from drifting into the space that the permanent tooth will eventually occupy.
Partial braces may be recommended after your child has some permanent teeth, but before other permanent teeth erupt. They help correct misaligned teeth that are preventing the other teeth from erupting properly. Partial braces typically include brackets on 4-6 teeth. As the remaining teeth erupt, the child will graduate to complete braces.
Occasionally, it may be necessary for your child to have a tooth extracted because there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate all of the permanent teeth. Extractions are always a last resort but may be unavoidable to assure your child has a functional bite and healthy mouth.
Book Your Child’s Orthodontic Appointment in Andover, MA
Andover Orthodontics is an all-age orthodontic practice providing comprehensive care to kids, tweens, teens, and adults. Helmed by Dr. Anthony Broccoli, Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, Andover Orthodontics is a top-rated practice serving Andover, Burlington, Boxford, Middleton, Westford, Haverhill, Wilmington, and surrounding communities. Call 978-475-0450, or send us a message to book your child’s orthodontic checkup today.