If the dentist tells you that your young child may need orthodontic treatment, you may feel surprised. Isn’t your child too young? Shouldn’t you wait until your child is a teenager before thinking about braces?
Not necessarily. Current thinking about orthodontic treatment is that it should begin as soon as problems appear. In this post, the providers at Dental Art of South Bay explain the facts about early orthodontic treatment.
When a child should get an orthodontic exam
Dentists take a close look at the X-rays of your child’s mouth during standard exams. They pay attention to the development of your child’s teeth and notice problems below your child’s gumline. They can tell if your child’s teeth are growing in improperly, which will prompt them to suggest orthodontic treatment.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child have their first orthodontic exam no later than age 7. Although this may seem young, it’s actually the perfect time. Your child has a combination of both baby teeth and adult teeth, which provides the right opportunity to evaluate the expected growth of your child’s teeth and jaw.
Three outcomes of an orthodontic exam
When your child gets an orthodontic exam, generally you’ll be presented with one of three outcomes. They include:
No treatment is necessary
The dentist may do an early orthodontic exam and determine that your child won’t likely need orthodontic treatment. Contrary to what some people believe, dentists don’t try to tell everyone that they need braces. If you get this outcome, you’re home free.
Treatment may be needed in the future
The dentist may say that orthodontic treatment may be necessary in the future but they will monitor the growth of your child’s teeth and jaw. They’ll keep track of your child’s development and will be better able to advise you in the future.
There might be a problem that lends itself to early treatment
If the dentist identifies an orthodontic problem that is correctable with early treatment, he or she will tell you so. Sometimes, early treatment can actually prevent worse problems in the future, so it’s actually in your child’s best interests to get treatment out of the way. Some of the problems that we can treat include:
- Crossbite (when the jaw shifts to the side)
- Crowded teeth
- Excess space between your teeth
- Missing teeth
- Issues affecting the teeth caused by thumb-sucking or extended pacifier use
If the dentist recommends early treatment, you can be assured that it’s the best thing for your child and is based on X-rays and projections of how your child’s mouth will develop.
Your options if your child needs orthodontic treatment
If your child needs orthodontic treatment, you may have different treatment options available.
Sometimes, particularly with more severe problems, we may recommend traditional braces. Traditional braces have some challenges, including certain foods that your child has to avoid, but most often, we can make it manageable and reasonably comfortable for them.
In other cases, we may recommend treatment with Invisalign®. This system has clear, thermoplastic aligners that you switch out every two weeks. Because they’re nearly invisible, they’re virtually unnoticeable. The dentist will monitor your child’s progress on a frequent basis. But one caution about Invisalign: Your child has to be diligent about wearing the plastic trays in order to achieve the results.
If your child needs an orthodontic evaluation, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll need braces. But if they do, sometimes early treatment is the best solution. Contact the providers at Dental Art of South Bay today.