Parents want their children to lead a happy and healthy life. Orthodontic evaluation is recommended at an early age to help parents along the path to improving their child’s health.
Orthodontics practices thrive to make sure parents understand the significant role early orthodontic evaluation- and treatment, if necessary- plays in children’s oral health. They also inform their patients and patients’ parents about the notable dynamic between oral health and overall health.
The American Association of Orthodontists encourages children to get an evaluation by their orthodontist by age 7.
Being assessed at this age doesn’t always equate to treatment being necessary. But there are some alignment issues and unhealthy oral habits that may need to be addressed this early in life.
Knowing whether a child is on a monitor-only or a treatment path at a young age can result in less invasive orthodontic treatment now, rather than surgery later.
There are some issues that if detected and treated while a child is still growing, we can take that child off of a surgery path. We have the fact that they are still growing on our side. Once growth stops, treatment options become more limited.
Problems Best Detected Early
Underbite is an example of a common and serious malocclusion that often can be fixed without surgery when identified and cared for at a young age. Underbite occurs when the lower jaw juts out farther than the upper jaw and fosters an improper bite pattern, along with facial deformity.
Serious teeth crowding issues noted and treated when a child is young can avert the need for tooth extractions and future surgery.
Orthodontists recommend identifying and correcting poor oral habits, such as prolonged pacifier use, thumb or finger sucking, mouth breathing and tongue thrusting (pressing the tongue through the teeth, keeping the front teeth from touching) at an early age.
Some children will naturally outgrow bad habits such as thumb-sucking. For those who continue poor oral habits and there is a fear they will lead to bite and alignment issues, treatments are available.
A standard case of early orthodontic treatment is an appliance that is set along the palette of a child’s mouth who has difficulty in quitting thumb and finger sucking. The device prevents the child from experiencing the satisfying sensation typically received from the habit.
Chronic mouth breathing can lead to complications in dental and facial development, such as long face syndrome, narrow mouths and receding or protruding jaws, according to Health.com.
Patients who experience facial development issues caused by chronic mouth breathing often require the use of corrective dental appliances, sometimes along with traditional braces, to cure “high vaulted mouth roofs, narrowing sinuses and deformed jaws. Left untreated, more serious facial surgery can be needed,” according to Health.com.
The point we want to be sure parents take away from this is that whether you’re a child or an adult, braces can correct a variety of bite and alignment issues. However, when we’re dealing with children, we can use a child’s growth to our advantage to create ideal bite and alignment.
Excellent oral health positively affects overall health. Many studies conclude that periodontal disease can lead to heart disease and other systemic ailments. It is less difficult to practice good oral hygiene and keep periodontal disease and tooth decay at bay when teeth are aligned and the bite is correct, he said.
Parents can help their children on the path to a lifetime of healthy smiles and overall health by beginning consultation with their orthodontist by age 7.