Orthodontic Care for Children: When and Why to Start

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Have you played the tooth fairy yet? Besides hiding money under pillows in exchange for baby teeth, you, as a parent of a young child, have the responsibility of caring for their teeth as they grow. However, knowing when and how to act in your child’s best interest can be a challenge. Today, we will share with you critical decisions in the field of kids orthodontics and why early orthodontic treatment can benefit your child’s smile for decades to come. 

The Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment

children orthodontic at Greg Brown Orthodontics

Are you wondering when you should take your child to the orthodontist for the first time? According to the American Association of Orthodontics, your child’s first orthodontic appointment should happen around the time they turn seven. By making going to the orthodontist a part of their annual health routine, you are not only ensuring their dental health but also building foundations for a healthy future where your child will have a positive relationship with their orthodontist – a relationship that you, as a parent, can play a significant role in fostering. 

Of course, the most significant benefit of early orthodontic treatment is that at this point in your child’s life, they likely have a mix of baby and adult teeth; this is a time when orthodontists can properly identify any potential problems that your child could have with their teeth in the future. Let us share a few of the most common. 

Common Orthodontic Concerns in Children

Around the age of seven, children’s mouths are becoming developed, but luckily, there is still room to make positive changes if needed. Some of the most common orthodontic concerns we see in children here at Greg Brown Orthodontics are:

1. Crowded Teeth

It is very common for children to have too many teeth in their mouth for the amount of oral cavity space they have. This lack of space leads the teeth to crowd together sometimes painfully, forming tight spaces between teeth and likely making them crooked. 

photo of a crooked teeth in children

2. Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth can stem from many different reasons, from crowding to external force to simply coming in at the wrong angle. Crooked teeth, in turn, can negatively affect oral hygiene and self-confidence. 

3. Poor Bite Alignment 

Bite alignment refers to how one’s teeth fit together and is heavily influenced by how one’s jaw grows and fits together over time. Underbites, overbites, and crossbites are common issues that can negatively affect how your child learns to eat, smile, and even speak. 

4. Unhealthy Oral Habits

The three issues we just mentioned can also be caused by habits children may have developed when they were little. There are quite a variety of poor dental habits, such as prolonged pacifier use or unintentional teeth grinding. The one we see the most often is prolonged thumb-sucking, which can lead to crooked teeth and bite problems. 

5. Jaw Growth Problems

How one’s jaw grows is primarily attributed to genetics, including any developmental issues. However, outside factors such as face or jaw injury and any corresponding surgeries can also contribute to it. If a child experiences unequal growth patterns in their upper and lower jaws, it can lead to an uneven bite alignment as well as complications with eating, sleeping, and speech. 

You can significantly improve your child’s life by tackling these early orthodontic treatments. Not only will you help them achieve better oral health for the rest of their life, but you can also aid them in creating greater confidence with a straight smile, leading to improved sociability and self-image. 

What to Expect for Your First Orthodontic Appointment

The first orthodontic appointment every parent makes is a simple evaluation. You and your child will come into the office for a calm meet-and-greet and assessment. During this evaluation, your orthodontist will carefully review your concerns about your child’s oral status, ask a few questions, and then take a peek into the patient’s mouth. 

mom and kid going to Greg Brown Orthodontics clinic

Some children have no issues and can be sent on their way to be reevaluated in another year to check again. However, if your child’s oral health raises a concern, your orthodontist will explain the issue and how it can be remedied. There are many ways to adjust a child’s teeth at this age without painful or expensive treatments. It is typically best to address the issue quickly before it becomes a long-term problem. 

Children’s Orthodontics – Tips for Parents to Make it EASY!

As a parent, taking your child to the orthodontist may seem like a daunting experience. However, we have the opportunity to instill a positive reaction from the start to prevent that “fear of going to the dentist” many children face and keep into adulthood. Here is what we recommend you do:

  1. Role Play: Do you remember playing doctor as a kid? Now it’s time to play orthodontist. Starting a few days before the appointment, have your child lie down while you brush their teeth or gently poke in their mouth to simulate what it would feel like. Then, switch! Let them play orthodontist while you lie down to show them how to be calm and relaxed. 
  2. Read Books: Read books about going to the dentist. While there aren’t as many for going to the orthodontist, the same basic idea applies. Here is one we found on Amazon that your little ones will love!
  3. Make it Exciting: On the big day, go at it excitedly. Start by talking about it at breakfast like it is an exciting adventure. You want to make it a positive environment rather than one filled with nerves. 

Learn More About Early Orthodontic Treatment with Greg Brown Orthodontics

Is your child nearing the age of seven? Or maybe you have noticed they are experiencing crowded or misplaced teeth, difficulty chewing or eating, early or late loss of baby teeth, mouth breathing, teeth grinding, snoring, feeling unrested or difficulty concentrating during the day due to restless sleep, a jaw that is not proportionate to the rest of the face, teeth that come together abnormally, or a jaw that pops or makes sounds when opening and closing? If your child experiences any of these issues, it is time to bring them in for an early orthodontic treatment evaluation. 

You can ensure your child’s smile is healthy and beautiful for the future! Schedule an initial orthodontic consultation with Greg Brown Orthodontics today to discover the benefits of early treatment.