Teeth straightening is a process that should start at an early age, while the jawbone is still growing and therefore easier to shape. This is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children go for their first orthodontic screening at seven years of age.
At this age, the child should have lost a number of their baby teeth. Also, a few of their permanent teeth should be growing into the gaps left by the milk teeth. This is the perfect time for an orthodontist to check if the permanent teeth will align properly. The orthodontist will also check if the child's jaw is the correct shape, size and position.
Signs that a patient needs orthodontic treatment
In some cases, a visit to the orthodontist happens after a dentist asks a parent to take their child for an orthodontic screening. In other cases, a caregiver may go directly to the orthodontist after observing any of the below signs:
- Permanent teeth that grow over milk teeth
- Crowded teeth or gapped teeth
- A pronounced overbite, underbite or crossbite
- Teeth that do not meet
- Difficulty when eating or speaking
- Mouth breathing
- Protruding teeth
- Milk teeth that fall out too early or too late
These are all signs that the young child needs orthodontic treatment, which starts with a thorough exam by an orthodontist.
An orthodontist will start with a visual exam and some questions for the child and the parent. The questions will help determine if the child sucks their thumb or whether they used a pacifier for a long time. If a permanent tooth has grown over a milk tooth, the orthodontist will ask whether the milk tooth became loose or not.
They will also take x rays of the teeth and jaw to see the extent of the malocclusion.
Early orthodontic treatments and teeth straightening
After performing the exam, an orthodontist will come up with a tailor-made treatment plan that is based on the patient's unique situation. They may choose one or more of the following options:
- In some cases, the orthodontist may opt to delay treatment and monitor the situation. They may choose this approach in the case of a child who needs their bite corrected with braces but still has some milk teeth that need to fall off
- They may treat a severe crossbite or severe crowding with a palatal expander. The expander is meant to reshape and widen a narrow jaw
- They may use orthodontic appliances like braces or headgear to fix protruding, crowded, gapped or otherwise misaligned teeth
- In some cases, an orthodontist will extract some teeth to correct overcrowding
It is a good idea to correct problems with the jaw and teeth before the jawbone hardens with age. This way, the treatment will work faster and yield excellent results.
If your child has a bite that could use correcting, call or visit us to learn how our orthodontist creates amazing smiles.
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Request an appointment here: https://www.klingorthodontics.com or call Kling Orthodontics at (636) 660-0525 for an appointment in our St Peters office.
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