Did you have braces as a kid? If so, you probably remember them being uncomfortable and annoying — but you came out on the other side with beautifully healthy teeth. It might be time for your child to get their very own braces — but how do you know when to schedule their first orthodontist appointment?
Here are five reasons why your child might need braces.
1. They Have an Overbite or Underbite
Do your child’s top or bottom teeth seem to appear too prominent? If they also have issues with chewing or talking, they could have an overbite or underbite. These conditions can lead to self-confidence problems, but they’re also harmful for oral health reasons.
If you don’t improve your child’s overbite, they can endure gum tissue damage. Plus, they may experience additional issues with their front teeth. If you ignore an underbite, your child could have extra difficulty chewing and talking down the line. It’s usually necessary to get braces to help fix overbites and underbites, so you should speak with an orthodontist.
2. They Experience Jaw Problems
Has your child complained about jaw problems? Look out for signs like jawline fatigue and stress. It’s also smart to ask whether they hear noises such as popping when they chew. These concerns can be related to crooked or crowded teeth, as well.
Remember that braces fix more than how teeth appear, so you can use them to fix specific jaw issues. If your child has problems with the temporomandibular joint connecting their jaw and skull, they may benefit from braces. It’s a good idea to talk to an orthodontist either way.
3. Their Teeth Are Crooked or Crowded
This cause might be the most obvious. If your child doesn’t have straight teeth, you may want to correct the issue for cosmetic purposes. That’s typically what happens when teeth become overly crowded, which can occur during both childhood and adulthood.
There are reasons for crooked teeth like jaw size and misalignment that allude to more severe oral hygiene issues. Though braces can achieve a perfect smile, they’re also helpful for other concerns your child might experience. It’s worthwhile to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist to prevent further oral damage.
4. They Have an Open Bite
What’s an open bite? Rather than when your top or bottom teeth push forward, you may notice an opening between your top and bottom teeth even when your mouth isn’t open. That’s called an open bite. Like with underbites, your child might struggle to chew or talk properly.
Usually, open bites happen for four reasons: pacifier sucking, tongue thrusting, skeletal issues and temporomandibular joint disorder. It can help to modify your child’s behavior so they don’t get an open bite, but you could be better off with a mechanical treatment like braces. There are options for surgery, as well.
5. Their Mouth Has Spacing Issues
There’s a chance your child has large gaps in their teeth. This issue happens due to irregular spacing, which typically occurs when you have some smaller or missing teeth. Try not to ignore teeth gaps because although they can seem cosmetic, they actually cause oral health issues, including cavities. That’s not something your child should have to handle.
If you notice gaps forming in your child’s teeth, be sure to bring that up to their dentist the next time you attend an appointment. It may not be something that needs immediate attention. However, you still want to stay on top of these things.
When’s the Best Time to Get Braces?
It can be tricky to figure out when to take your child to the orthodontist. Keep in mind that the American Association of Orthodontics recommends kids see orthodontists before they’re seven years old, as that’s the ideal time for them to check for current and future oral issues. However, your child might not get braces until later.
Do your best to touch base with your child’s dentist during every visit. This way, you can receive expert advice on when your child needs to see an orthodontist. Usually, children don’t get braces until they’re about 10 years old, but their doctor could choose to wait a few more years. It simply depends on their situation.
Keep in mind that your orthodontist might not think braces will be most effective. For example, they may go with surgery to repair the issue instead. That’s a trick mainly used to address jaw problems. There’s also a chance your child will just need to wear a retainer for a while.
These Signs Could Point to Oral Health Issues That Require Braces
There’s no “best time” for your kid to get braces, but you do need to make time for an orthodontist appointment before they turn eight years old. It’s the best preventive measure you can take to avoid particular oral health issues. Be sure to make their teeth a priority.