Many parents are unaware of the importance of orthodontic examinations for young children. According to popular belief, orthodontic treatments are meant for pre-teens and teenagers, and adults with significant dental misalignments. It may come as a surprise when we say that according to global organizations for pediatric dentistry, including the American Association of Orthodontists, children should have their first orthodontic examination before the age of 7. This is because, by age 7, most children would have had some permanent teeth eruptions and sufficient jaw development by that age, which is enough for a good orthodontist to identify if they require any treatment or not.
Early diagnosis and intervention of orthodontic issues are crucial for your child’s healthy oral development. In this article, we will look more into the need for early orthodontic checkups and how to help your child start their treatments.
Why does your child need an orthodontic evaluation?
Over the years parents have warmed to the idea of taking their children for regular dental appointments. During your appointment, your child’s pediatric dentist may recommend early orthodontic evaluations if they deem it necessary for your little one’s oral development. You can also take the appointment of an orthodontist if your child has the following issues-
- Children who had the habit of thumb sucking in their early childhood are more likely to develop orthodontic issues such as protruding or crowded front teeth. If the issue persists even as their permanent teeth are erupting, get an orthodontic evaluation immediately.
- Early dental loss due to tooth decay or other reasons can pave the way for orthodontic issues. Similarly, delayed loss of milk teeth can also lead to dental misalignments.
- If your child’s permanent teeth are erupting irregularly, it’s time to see the dentist for an evaluation.
- Bite issues, jaw clenching, and grinding are other symptoms of irregular jaw development. Getting it evaluated and treated early on will help your little one have proper oral development.
- Sometimes, speech delays or lisps are caused by irregularities in the jaw or facial structure. It’s best advised to check with a pediatric dentist if your child has these issues.
Your child’s orthodontic checkups: What to expect
During your child’s regular dental appointments, their pediatric dentist will be able to study their face and jaw development and may recommend the need for orthodontic treatments. More often than not, young children who will benefit from orthodontic interventions may not require it immediately and will be placed under a watchful waiting period. As they get older, the pediatric dentist will recommend an intervention or refer them to an orthodontist who will make the most of the growth window and get started on treatments. Early orthodontic checkups are therefore vital for your child, allowing their dentist to utilize their ongoing permanent teeth eruptions and developing jaw structure to ensure proper bite and alignment.
Here are a few things you should know about early orthodontics-
- The goal of early intervention is to intercept a potential developmental issue, eliminate its cause and gently guide the growth of the jaw and facial bones in the right direction.
- Early interventions will help children develop adequate space for incoming permanent teeth.
- Getting treatment early on will help correct issues such as overbite, underbite, and crossbite.
- Resolves issues such as thumbsucking and tongue thrust. Early treatments also reduce the instances of speech delays.
- Orthodontic treatments also enhance your child’s facial symmetry and straighten out the teeth for an improved smile.
Phase 1 Orthodontics
Phase 1 orthodontic treatment is recommended for young patients between the ages of 6 and 9 years, during their mixed dentition phase. The treatment can be started as soon as the child’s permanent upper lateral incisors have erupted.
At this stage, the pediatric orthodontist focuses more on skeletal rather than dental correction. Regular dental appointments will help the orthodontist design a treatment plan by understanding your child’s unique oral growth and developmental patterns. Generally, phase 1 orthodontics is advised for patients with birth defects affecting bones of the skull and face including cleft lip and palate, misaligned teeth, or disruptions in tooth or jaw development. The orthodontist will use the developmental window to create a space and guide the eruption of permanent teeth into proper alignment. During the treatment, appliances such as functional and expansion appliances, specialized retainers, and space maintainers are used for oral corrections.
Phase 2 orthodontic treatment
Phase 2 orthodontic treatments are needed for some children to further correct their dental development. This phase usually begins when most or all of the permanent teeth are in. Phase two orthodontic treatments focus on the following-
- Creating adequate space for the permanent teeth to come in by correcting the jaw. This reduces the need to remove permanent teeth in the future.
- Reducing the need for corrective surgeries later on by providing the right treatment during their growing stage
- Bite corrections by improving the relationship between the upper and lower jaws
- Intervene to eliminate the issues caused by prolonged thumb sucking and an abnormal swallowing
- Ensure that the upper front teeth are tucked in to reduce the risk of the teeth being knocked out or broken
Getting dental braces
Children who have healthy teeth and gums and follow good dental hygiene practices are ideal candidates for braces as a phase 2 treatment. Braces are recommended for young patients who need bite or alignment issues and are a highly effective treatment method.
Clear aligners are also another effective option for correcting mild to moderate alignment and bite issues. If your child doesn’t have severe bite issues or malocclusions, you can discuss with their pediatric dentist about getting started on clear aligners. Unlike traditional braces, the aligners are removable and are aesthetically more pleasing, which is why it is also a wonderful choice for the right candidates.
Starting early orthodontic interventions can greatly reduce the need for complicated and expensive orthodontic surgeries or wearing braces for longer periods. If you feel like your child requires an orthodontic evaluation, visit your kid’s pediatric dentist in Dubai at the earliest for a comprehensive checkup. Give your child an early start towards a healthy and beautiful smile.