Think Your Child is Too Young for Orthodontic Treatment? Think Again

Parents are often surprised when we recommend assessing their young child for orthodontics. Maybe they believe the common misconception about waiting for adult teeth before considering braces or other orthodontic procedures. But the reality is that crooked or crowded teeth, overbites, and crossbites (when your lower front teeth extend further than your upper front teeth) simply do not fix themselves. Your child will not ‘grow into their teeth’. It’s better to know what you are dealing with early and begin correcting before your child’s teeth and bones are fully developed. Rather than waiting for problems to arise, we can direct the growth to ensure that your child’s mouth develops with a healthy and attractive bite.

Orthodontic Assessments for Early Monitoring

In our practice, we like to do an initial orthodontic assessment of children at about 5 years of age. This assessment is simply to observe how their jaws are growing and determine if there are signs of problems that may develop in the future. There usually isn’t anything to do at this age, but simply identify areas of concern to monitor.

Guiding Growth and Development

We do the next assessment at about 8 years of age, checking to see how your child’s growth is progressing. A few baby teeth have fallen out by this age, and the jaw and palate are expanding to accommodate all of those big, beautiful new teeth. At this age, it is not uncommon to see that the upper and lower jaws are growing at different rates. When spotted early, we can do something about it to prevent or lessen misalignment and bite issues in the future. Often all it takes is a retainer to slow growth of one section of the jaw or an expander to help it catch up. If it looks like adult teeth are rotated as they erupt, we can also consider sectional braces to correct the alignment.

By the age of 12, most kids have lost all of their baby teeth and the majority of adult teeth are in. Kids who had orthodontic assessments early may have already had bite issues resolved and now only need a little bit of tweaking to straighten everything out. If not, misalignment needs to be addressed now, when moving the teeth and expanding the palate is still relatively easy. Leaving problems with the bite untreated beyond the early teen years could lead to the development of painful conditions (link to alignment blog) in the future, including TMJ and migraines.

It’s Still Not Too Late

For older teens and even adults who haven’t had the benefit of early monitoring and treatment, it’s not too late. Issues with bite are well established at this point and the patient may already be experiencing pain as a result. Braces and Invisalign can be used to realign teeth, which can correct minor bite issues but major changes could be another story. They are still possible but are also more likely to require surgery.

As dentists, we want to get in front of orthodontic treatments when kids are young to avoid more serious problems develop that could cause pain and be more difficult to treat in the future. Bite issues such as a crossbite, crowding or crooked teeth can not only affect your child’s smile but their self- confidence, in addition to leading to a lifetime of suffering from migraines and joint pain. So if your dentist recommends an ortho consult for your young child, don’t brush it off. Do your child a favour and start early when orthodontic problems begin to appear.

Contact us for your Oakville dentistry and Orthodontic Treatment needs

Call us at 905-338-6684 or complete the form below to ask about orthodontics for children or adults. It’s never too late to makeover your smile with straighter teeth, or to address misalignment issues that may be causing pain. Dr. Agatha Bis is a cosmetic dentist in Oakville providing treatment to patients with chronic pain resulting from malocclusion in addition to other cosmetic and restorative dentistry services including veneers, teeth whitening, and dental implants.