Children’s orthodontics is a dental treatment that focuses on correcting the position of the teeth and jaw in children. It is a speciality that aims to improve the oral health of children and prevent problems in adulthood. But how do you know when is the right time to start children’s orthodontics? In the Medident blog, we explain everything you need to know about this topic and help you understand when is the ideal time to start orthodontic treatment for your child.
Why might orthodontics be necessary for a child?
Children’s braces may be necessary for a variety of reasons, the most common cases we see in our orthodontic unit are as follows:
Open or cross bite
Occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not come together correctly when the mouth is closed, which can lead to difficulties when biting or chewing. The crossbite appliance can alleviate this problem.
Crooked or misaligned teeth
This can affect dental appearance and function, causing problems with oral hygiene and pronunciation.
If your child has difficulty chewing food, he or she may have problems with nutrition and digestion. Orthodontics can help improve a child’s chewing function.
Difficulty with speech pronunciation
Poor positioning of the teeth and jaw can make it difficult to pronounce certain sounds. Orthodontic treatment helps to correct these speech problems.
Crowded or overcrowded teeth
When teeth are crowded or there are too many teeth in the mouth, they can cause alignment and dental hygiene problems. Orthodontics can align the teeth and create more space in the mouth.
Disproportionate jaws or abnormal jaw growth
In some cases, abnormal jaw growth causes bite problems and creates a disproportionate facial appearance. Orthodontic appliances can correct these conditions.
Seemingly small or missing teeth
Orthodontics is also useful for correcting the position of teeth that are too small or missing for various reasons, helping to improve the function of the dentition and also the aesthetics of the child’s smile.
When is the right time to start orthodontic treatment for children?
The ideal age to begin orthodontic treatment for children varies from case to case and depends on several factors, such as the child’s dental health, the severity of the problem and the type of treatment required. However, there are three general stages of orthodontic treatment for children:
Early orthodontics (3-6 years).
Also known as preventive orthodontics, this stage focuses on correcting early growth and development problems in the teeth and jaws through paediatric orthodontics.
This stage of treatment is usually recommended for children with severe bite problems, such as crossbite or protrusion, and those with harmful oral habits such as thumb sucking or mouth breathing.
Interceptive or functional orthodontics (7-11 years)
At this stage, the permanent teeth are beginning to erupt, so alignment and bite problems can be corrected before they are fully developed. Problems such as malocclusion are also treated with an appliance to correct the bite.
Orthodontics permanent dentition (12-18 years)
This is the most common stage to begin orthodontic treatment, as most of the permanent teeth have erupted and it is easier to correct bite and alignment problems. This stage is also used to correct aesthetic problems such as crooked or misaligned teeth.
Main benefits of children’s orthodontics
Children’s orthodontics has many benefits for the dental health and general well-being of children:
Orthodontics helps correct severe bite problems such as overbite, underbite, open bite and crossbite.
An incorrect bite can cause speech problems, feeding problems and jaw pain. Correcting these dysfunctions improves a child’s ability to speak, chew and swallow.
Correcting dental alignment problems
Braces for children correct crooked, crowded and spaced teeth. In addition to improving dental appearance, proper alignment of teeth also greatly benefits oral health by facilitating dental hygiene and reducing the risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Facilitating oral hygiene and reducing the risk of tooth decay
Correctly aligned teeth are easier to clean and brush, which reduces the risk of tooth decay and gum disease as a result of food and plaque build-up between the gaps in the teeth. Orthodontics creates a healthier smile that is easier to maintain.
Improved speaking and chewing ability
A proper bite and dental alignment improves the functionality of the dentition and as a result, the child’s ability to speak, chew and swallow food correctly.
Improved dental appearance
Children’s orthodontic treatment results in an improvement of the child’s dental appearance. Children who feel good about their appearance are more likely to smile more often, which can have a positive impact on their social and emotional life.
Increasing a child’s self-esteem and confidence
Correction of bite and dental alignment problems results in a healthier and more harmonious physical appearance, improving the appearance of the child’s smile and thus increasing their confidence and self-esteem.
Types of orthodontics that can be used in children
Depending on the dysfunction and position of the teeth, orthodontic treatment for children may vary:
Brackets or fixed appliances
Brackets are a common type of orthodontics that consist of small metal or ceramic pieces that are attached to the teeth and linked together with an archwire. Braces can be fixed or removable and are used to correct dental alignment problems.
Removable appliances are devices that can be removed and placed in the patient’s mouth. They are primarily used to correct bite and dental alignment problems. Examples of removable appliances include retainers, aligners and palatal expanders.
Reverse bite appliances to correct open or crossbites
Reverse bite appliances are used to correct open or cross bite problems. These appliances are placed on the back of the teeth and extend over the lower jaw, allowing the bite to close.
Functional appliances to correct jaw problems
These devices work in conjunction with the muscles of the mouth to change the position of the jaw and improve dental alignment. Some functional appliances for this function are the rapid expander or disjunctor, the reverse extraoral or Delaire mask or the Herbst appliances.
Among the dental appliances for jaw correction are invisible aligners. They are a type of orthodontics that uses a series of clear, removable aligners to correct dental alignment problems. These aligners are changed approximately every two weeks and are less visible than braces and other traditional orthodontic devices.
Early orthodontic treatment can prevent more serious long-term problems and avoid the need for more invasive treatments in the future.
The right time to start treatment depends on the age and individual needs of each patient, but it is important not to wait too long to avoid more serious complications in adulthood.
If you are interested in learning more about children’s orthodontics and whether your child could benefit from it, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our team of experts at Medident. We’re ready to help you find the best solution for your family’s oral health – schedule your appointment today!