Will My Child Need Orthodontic Treatment?
Our dentists at the Kids Dentistry Center often get asked this question, sometimes when the child is still very young. This is understandable as many parents want to know so they can plan ahead for orthodontic treatment. Dr. Marina Krepkh and all our pediatric dentists will regularly monitor the growth of your child’s teeth and jaws at every check-up.
It Can Be at Least Partly down to Genetics
The overall positioning of your child’s teeth and the growth of their jaws can be largely down to genetics but there are a lot of other factors that come into play. If you want to know if your kid will need braces, it’s best to look at your own teeth and those of your partner as if they are crooked or you both had orthodontic work as children then it’s likely your child will need to wear braces.
Oral Habits Make a Difference
This is one factor that can make a huge difference, for example if your kid likes to suck their thumb or fingers or uses a pacifier. Dr. Krepkh and all our dentists are well aware that thumb and finger sucking can be very comforting for young children and initially it will not do any damage. However this can change if the habit continues past the age of four or so. This is because the action of sucking a finger or thumb pulls the upper jaw forward causing it to become elongated and narrower than before. This affects the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. At the same time the pressure of a finger or thumb resting on the lower teeth can push these teeth inwards.
When Can I Find out for Sure If My Kid Needs Braces?
The American Academy of Orthodontics recommends children have the first orthodontic evaluation around the age of six or seven. At this age an orthodontist will be looking to make sure all the permanent and upper and lower incisors have erupted through the gums, and by this stage it is easier to see how the rest of the teeth will erupt and to be able to predict if there is enough space to accommodate all their teeth.
What Can Be Done If My Child Needs Orthodontic Treatment?
At the age of six or seven, your child isn’t going to be given a comprehensive amount of orthodontic treatment. However, there are quite a lot of things that can be done at this stage using early orthodontic interceptive care. This uses various appliances and possibly facial exercises to help correct problems created by oral habits or other issues, and it can do quite a lot to reduce the need for orthodontic treatment in the future. Treatment at this stage can often help create a nicer facial profile and it may avoid the need for tooth extractions during orthodontic treatment later on. The final decision as to when orthodontic treatment will start is something that will be fully discussed with you at the time.