Most children will need braces when they reach their teenage years, whether to fix a misaligned bite or to straighten out crooked teeth. However, some issues of the mouth are more extreme than others, and should be addressed earlier in order to prevent more problems from forming or getting worse. There are a few ways that you, as a parent, can determine whether or not you need to ask your dentist for an early orthodontic recommendation for your child.
Notice the Warning Signs
Despite the fact that every person is different, traits in those who might need orthodontic work early tend to be consistent across individuals. These traits will mostly be things such as markedly unaligned teeth, a severe over or under bite or a severe misaligned bite. Not all types of issues are blatantly obvious, but you can notice them in more ways than by observing how your child chews and swallows.
Check for Hidden Clues
A child's speech development is one of the most important factors in growing up, and thus makes a great time to notice a speech impediment that could be caused by jaw growth that is out of order. A child also might begin to get self-conscious even if he or she isn't showing major symptoms, about the size and alignment of their teeth. If you're still in the toothbrush helper stage of their life, this is a perfect time to check for yourself for any potential problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Know When to Go
There's no "set in stone" age requirement, but the American Academy of Orthodontists say age 7 is a good age to at least get a diagnostic overview of how the mouth will shape up. For families experiencing some of the early warning signs, you might not want to put it off any longer and go for 6, if not slightly before turning 6. When your child visits the dentist, he may notice severe problems and advise you to take your child to the orthodontist, even if you don't deem it necessary.
A common misconception is that going in this early means braces for your child right away – it doesn't. The point of going around the age of 7 is to project health and recommend treatment BEFORE braces are actually necessary. In most cases a mold will be made of the teeth so the orthodontist can gauge how best to align them. X-rays might also be taken at this time. If you go around this time, it gives the orthodontist the best chance at noticing tooth development disparity, which is extremely common for that age group. If you put it off until the teen years, treatment might be harder. However it should be noted that most kids don't undergo orthodontic treatment until the 9-14 range.
Understand That Sometimes Early Intervention Is Necessary
So you've gone to your appointment and the orthodontist has recommended early treatment, what do you do now? Simple, this is not something you can afford to put off. If it's a financial issue, many clinics offer payment plans for the insured and credit programs. If you're concerned that it might make things difficult for your child in the short term, imagine how they would feel in the long term without steps being taken now. Serious issues like cross bite and misaligned teeth won't get better on their own, and in most cases the longer you wait, the more misshapen the teeth will become as the child grows. A child will have more confidence into their adult years with the proper treatment being performed, not to mention the teeth will be easier to clean and have a better chance at staying healthy for a lifetime.
Get in touch with a local dentist, like Kevin J Owoc, for more details on recognizing early warning signs.