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A growth and development dental evaluation is essential to make sure your child’s teeth and jaws are developing correctly.

It can help detect any issues such as misaligned jaws or teeth, or to identify problems with jaw growth at an early stage.

This can be beneficial as early treatment can help prevent problems from becoming any worse, and may mean less treatment is required in the future. Early treatment utilizes the growth of the jaws to help correct any problems.

Our dentist will gently examine your child’s teeth and jaws and may want to take digital dental x-rays to provide a clearer picture. These are used to diagnose any problems with teeth that may have already erupted, or which are waiting to push through the gums. Our dentist will check that all the teeth are able to erupt normally and that all the teeth are present, as a small percentage of children will have hypodontia, a condition where one or more of the permanent teeth are congenitally missing.

A dental evaluation also enables our dentist to see whether or not there will be sufficient space in the jaws for the teeth to erupt normally, or if there are any issues with the overall shape of the jaws. They will be looking to see how the teeth bite together, and whether there are issues such as an abnormal bite.

An abnormal bite may be classified in several different ways:

  • An underbite, where the lower teeth bite too far forward of the upper teeth
  • An overbite which is the opposite problem, and where the upper teeth bite too far forward of the lower teeth
  • A crossbite where some of the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth
  • An open bite which is where the front teeth cannot bite together at all, even when the back teeth are fully in contact

Our dentist will also want to know about any oral habits such as thumb sucking, pacifier use, tongue thrusting, and bruxism or teeth grinding and clenching. Oral habits apply force to the teeth and associated structures, and can affect dental and facial development.

Habits such as thumb sucking and pacifier use can increase the risk of your child developing an overbite or open bite, or a crossbite that affects the back teeth. This is due to the way these habits affect jaw development. Thumb sucking and pacifier use is perfectly natural in a young child, and only presents a problem when the habit continues into early childhood.

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