An orthodontist’s work goes far beyond creating wonderful smiles. It includes making sure that the teeth and jaws are aligned correctly for proper chewing and speaking. Malocclusions, also called bad bites, and crooked teeth can cause teeth to be damaged via uneven tooth wear and improper chewing. They can also contribute to speech impediments. Correct alignment promotes long-term tooth and gum health, because well aligned teeth are easier to floss and brush thoroughly. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should have their first orthodontic evaluation by age seven.
Still Growing And Developing
Orthodontic treatment is typically a gradual process, using pressure, force and functional devices to reposition and align. Orthodontists recommend having the first orthodontic evaluation by age seven because many orthodontic issues are easier to treat in younger patients. This can be the best time to deal with tooth crowding and other issues connected to the arrival and position of the permanent teeth. That is because a child’s jaw is still growing and all of the permanent teeth are not yet in place, so the repositioning process can be easier and shorter in duration.
Some issues, such as a crossbite, can be treated in a less invasive fashion when treated during childhood. With some types of crossbite, a palatal expander can be used to successfully treat a child, whereas an older patient could require oral surgery to resolve the malocclusion. The sooner orthodontic problems that can impact proper chewing, tooth wear patterns, speech development, facial symmetry, or interfere with thorough teeth cleaning are detected and treated, the better for the child’s long-term oral health and development.
Create A Care Strategy
Childhood orthodontic evaluations can catch problems earlier, making the easier to treat. An assessment can determine if there is likely to be sufficient room for the permanent teeth to come in correctly. An orthodontist can detect signs of orthodontic problems that may develop over time. Some early signs may warrant immediate treatment, while others will just need to be watched just in case they do develop into an orthodontic issue. An orthodontic evaluation by age seven provides an opportunity to develop a care strategy to deal with smaller orthodontic issues before they develop into larger, harder to treat issues.
Signs Orthodontic Care May Be Needed
Many of the signs of an orthodontic problem are quite visible, such as crowded teeth, turned teeth, crossbite, open bite, underbite and overbite. Other signs may be more subtle. These include mouth breathing, teeth grinding, baby tooth loss outside of the usual age range, inner cheek biting, speech problems and noisy or shifting jaws. Orthodontic treatment can also help with facial symmetry issues and potentially damaging habitual oral behaviors, like sucking the thumb or fingers.
Sooner Is Better
As important as wonderful smiles are, they are the result of the true work of an orthodontist. Treating the teeth and jaw alignment issues that can impede proper speech development, damage permanent teeth and interfere with chewing, eating and enjoying a healthy diet is often easier in younger children. Sooner is better is especially true of orthodontic problems that can also impact other developmental areas, such as speech development, social development and dietary habits.