Did you know most common orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, gaps, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits? This is where parents can help spot the signs of kids needing orthodontic care, by keeping an eye on the health of your child’s teeth. An orthodontist can help you look out for any problems that might benefit from early orthodontic intervention.
Braces are often associated with teens so you might be surprised to hear that children as young as nine can benefit from early orthodontic treatment. Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 9 or 10. By the end of their 13th year, the jaw bones will harden. Early orthodontic intervention can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
Traditionally, it was recommended to wait for all the baby teeth to fall out and all the permanent teeth to come in before seeing an orthodontist for the first time. However, now in this advanced dental era, we would consider this approach as case of missed opportunities. Delaying treatment until adolescence increases the incidence of extraction of permanent teeth because, as the bones became more rigid and growth is ceased, the window of opportunity for expansion or growth modification is closed. Many correctable habits or skeletal mismatches were allowed to continue, while earlier intervention could have led to a more stable, and less invasive correction. Once your child turns seven, it is best advised to visit either a general dentist or an orthodontist for your child’s orthodontic evaluation.
How early orthodontic evaluation can help?
1. Firstly, an orthodontist can tell if a child may have an orthodontic problem, or if it’s just a normal developmental variation. Early evaluation by an orthodontist can help in determining if there will be adequate room in the mouth to accommodate all the permanent teeth.
2. There are many conditions that are far easier to treat if they’re caught at an early stage, when children’s natural growth processes are in full swing. For example, a palatal expander appliance can effectively treat a child’s crossbite (a condition where the upper teeth close inside the lower ones) because a youngster’s jaw is still growing rapidly. However, if left untreated, oral surgery could later be required to correct this serious condition.
3. Early treatment may give your child lowered risk of trauma to protruding front teeth, guide eruption of permanent teeth into a more favourable position, and improve the appearance of your child’s teeth, lips, and face. Help your child achieve a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime, by starting early orthodontic treatment to achieve the best possible outcome for your child. Early diagnosis and correction of certain problems can make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated.
Dr Siju George (BDS, MDS) is Specialist Orthodontist at Wassan Specialty Dental Centre