In spite of the fact that orthodontic practices around the world treat patients of all ages, many people still tend to think of teens in braces when they heard the word “orthodontics.” While treatment in the teen years is indeed popular, orthodontic care is for everyone, including children! That’s one reason why the American Association of Orthodontists says your child should see an orthodontist by age 7.
This recommendation is often confusing for parents, since most children around this age still have developing mouths and a number of baby teeth. If you have a young child, you may wonder why they would need to see an orthodontist so soon! Put simply, this is part of the preventative approach we take to orthodontic care here at Manley Orthodontics.
By scheduling an early exam with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Manley, we have the opportunity to catch any orthodontic issues – existing or potential – sooner rather than later. This can help prevent a negative impact on their permanent teeth and their bite. Our practice treats many younger patients, and we’ve been able to observe firsthand how starting treatment at the right time can benefit a child’s overall oral health.
If your child is ready for their first orthodontic appointment, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at how their mouth is developing! Click here to schedule a FREE Manley Smile Assessment, and keep reading below to learn more about some of the things Dr. Manley will be checking for during your child’s initial evaluation.
Not only are crooked teeth harder to clean efficiently, they also tend to be more susceptible to damage and wear. If a misalignment goes untreated for a long enough period of time, it may compromise the surrounding gum tissue, affecting the shape and position of it. While we can successfully align teeth at almost any age, getting a head start on correction helps to minimize some of that wear and tear in children, giving them the best chance of a healthy smile!
Crowding and spacing
An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Manley will generally be able to tell pretty early on if a child is experiencing problems with excessive crowding or spacing of their teeth. He’ll also be able to determine if this is something they may develop later on. Spacing issues can show up when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or with teeth that are too small or spaced apart. If crowding is the problem, it can often be corrected by expanding the arches or removing certain teeth.
Tooth loss and eruption
Because all baby teeth eventually fall out, it can be easy to underestimate their importance! But as placeholders for our permanent teeth, where they’re located and when they’re lost matters more than you may think. These primary teeth also tend to fall out in a fairly specific order. If Dr. Manley notices any significant deviation from that pattern, it could signify a developmental issue that needs further attention from our expert team.
By around the age of 7, most children will have at least four permanent molars and up to four permanent incisors. If a child has any more or less than this, it could indicate that there are missing, crowded, or extra teeth. In some cases, we may choose to remove a primary tooth early. In others, we may opt to maintain a space where a tooth has been lost prematurely in order to prevent other problems later on.
Overbite (protruding front teeth)
Obvious overbites can be a cosmetic concern, but they may also cause pain in the jaw, and may even interfere with a patient’s speech. We may have to wait until a child’s mouth has finished growing to permanently correct an overbite; however, there are still a number of things we can do to help reduce the risk of pain and traumatic injury as they are growing. Corrective measures can also improve a younger patient’s confidence and self-esteem, as well.
An underbite can be caused by problems with either the teeth or jaws. In the most difficult scenario, the lower jaw grows too far forward. If this happens, we’ll typically need to wait until the patient has finished growing to begin their treatment, around their mid- to late-teens. However, early treatment is still important for avoiding any bite-shifting and damage to the front teeth. In addition, underbite patients who receive early treatment between the ages of about 7-10 tend to be less likely to need jaw surgery when they get older.
A posterior crossbite can lead to crowding, and it may also cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other. Expanding the upper jaw in earlier childhood can reduce crowding and create space for the front teeth to come through uninterrupted. Expansion can also eliminate any shifting that may be present due to a constricted upper jaw.
Anterior Open Bites and Deep Bites
In a deep bite, the child’s top teeth can completely cover the bottom ones when biting. This sometimes indicates a small lower jaw. With an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough. This may be caused by poor oral habits, such as extended finger or thumb sucking, or if a child uses a bottle or pacifier for too long. Our team will be happy to work with your child to help eliminate destructive habits early on, allowing their dental development to continue normally.
Early evaluations = healthier smiles at Manley Orthodontics
When you have a better understanding of the many issues younger patients can face, it’s easy to see why early orthodontic evaluations are such an important part of overall oral health! Having Dr. Manley examine your young child can help prevent the need for more invasive orthodontics as an adult, and can also make comprehensive orthodontic treatment faster and more efficient.
Manley Orthodontics is proud to provide top-quality orthodontic care for patients of all ages in a friendly, welcoming, and stress-free environment. If you’re in Issaquah, Sammamish, or the surrounding communities, we’d love to schedule an initial visit and a FREE Manley Smile Assessment for your child. Get in touch today and let’s get started!