Warning Signs your Kids May Need Orthodontic Treatment
We’ve all heard the sayings emphasizing the importance of reacting ahead of time. This concept is relevant in all aspects of life and Orthodontics is no exception! Here are some common warning signs that your child may require orthodontic treatment:
Common symptoms of mouth breathing include dry cracked lips, a dry mouth, bad breath, snoring and daytime fatigue. If your child consistently breathes through his/her mouth, you should consider an orthodontic consultation.
If mouth breathing is left untreated, it can cause major changes to your oral health and even to your jaw structure. Mouth breathing can lead to the development of gingivitis, a narrow upper jaw, a gummy smile, crooked teeth and a bite where the front teeth don’t touch (open bite).
If the problem is caused by problems with the teeth and/or jaws – a child can’t, for example, close his/her lips over flared front teeth – then the solution may be orthodontic treatment.
Overcrowded or Crooked Teeth
If your child’s adult teeth are growing in crooked and your child is complaining of discomfort or is bothered by the way their smile looks, this may suggest that orthodontic treatment is required. There may be some very conservative orthodontic treatment options available to prevent this problem from becoming worse.
Abnormal Tooth Loss
Children can expect to start finding money under their pillows from Tooth Fairy visits around the age of 6-7 and usually these visits will stop by the age of twelve. The timely loss of baby teeth is important to allow the adult teeth to erupt in the appropriate manner. If your child is losing his/her baby teeth much earlier or later than normal, this may be a red flag for a developing orthodontic problem.
If your child is shifting their jaw in order to chew properly or complaining of soreness to the teeth and/or gums while chewing, this may be an indication of a problem with the teeth and/or jaws that could benefit from orthodontic treatment.
If your child is finding it difficult to say certain words or to use full sentences, it may be due to a misaligned jaw or teeth. A narrow upper jaw, for example, can decrease the space necessary for resonance in speech. In these situations, orthodontic treatment may help.
Kids generally start sucking their thumbs because they’re trying to find a substitute for sucking on a bottle. While most children stop sucking their thumbs during the toddler years between the ages of 2 and 4, some may continue the habit because it is comforting and calming.
If your child is still sucking his/her thumb when the permanent teeth start to come in, usually around the age of 6, and you notice that the upper front teeth are starting to stick out, the lower front teeth are getting crowded, or speech problems, such as lisping, are developing, you should consider an orthodontic consultation. This is especially important if you and your child have tried virtually everything (positive reinforcement, gentle reminders, distraction with a substitute activity, etc.) to stop the thumb habit.
For some kids, a simple visit to our office for a casual conversation with Dr. Wilk about why it’s important to stop thumb sucking can be a lot more effective than a talk with mom or dad.
If your child’s jaw shifts when eating or is noticeably out of alignment (jaw asymmetry), it is advisable to visit an Orthodontist to determine if there are conservative options available to address this problem before it becomes a potentially larger problem.
Early Treatment Benefits
Initiating early interceptive orthodontic treatment can have the following benefits:
- Preserve or gain space for the future eruption of the adult teeth
- Influence jaw growth in a positive manner to achieve a balanced bite
- Improve the appearance of the teeth which can lead to an improvement in self-esteem
- Eliminate harmful oral habits (Thumbsucking)
- Correct speech problems
- Eliminate or shorten treatment time for later orthodontics
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