Let’s clear the air about a common misconception when it comes to orthodontic care in children. You ABSOLUTELY do not have to wait for all the baby teeth to be gone before you can seek our orthodontic treatment solutions.
Often, we get parents that delay consulting a pediatric orthodontist for their child because they didn’t have all of their adult teeth yet. Here are some of the more common statements we hear
“I thought the gap in her teeth would close when her adult teeth came through.”
“Crooked baby teeth doesn’t always mean crooked adult teeth right?”
Or one that our in house pediatric orthodontic specialist Dr. Miles has heard virtually his entire career:
“They’re just going to lose those teeth anyway. So cavities aren’t really that big of a deal until they get adult teeth.”
The truth is that there are so many problems that kids will have a harder time with later in life that early intervention orthodontic treatment could have prevented, or at the very least made more easily manageable. Here is a list of 6 of those conditions:
1. Teeth Crowding
When there isn’t enough room for all of the adult teeth in the mouth, the teeth will start to layer on top of one another. Sometimes this can result in misshapen teeth or consistent infections because of a lack of space. If your child has trouble getting floss between teeth, odds are they are experiencing some dental crowding. Crowding is most commonly treated with braces but the more severe the crowding, the longer the patient will have to wear braces.
2. Teeth Spacing
If crowding is what happens when there isn’t enough room in the mouth, spacing is what happens when there is too much room in the mouth. Spacing can happen from excessive thumb sucking or sometimes it can be an inherited trait. Either way, braces are the most likely path for treatment.
An underbite is when the lower teeth extend outward farther than the upper front teeth. In cases where an underbite is ignored, they can cause problems with speech, consistent jaw pain or difficulty chewing. Unfortunately, a lot of the underbites we see are formed from habits like long-term bottle use or excessive thumb sucking. Aside from braces or headgear, some severe underbites may require surgery to correct if not treated early.
Overbite is the opposite of underbite in that instead of the lower teeth extending outward, the upper teeth are extending outward. This is probably the most common issue facing younger children. Generally, a small overbite isn’t anything to fuss about but if it is too severe, it can lead to problems like sleep apnea or difficulty eating. The best thing to do is make sure you and a pediatric orthodontist are aware of the overbite and to monitor it closely in case it needs correction.
A crossbite is when the upper teeth fit behind your lower teeth when your mouth is closed or at rest. This can affect teeth in the front of your mouth or toward the back of your mouth. Crossbites are often painful to the patient and apart from tooth decay and jaw pain, they could cause sleep apnea, frequent headaches or neck and shoulder pain. Often, we see crossbites in patients who were late losing their baby teeth or got their adult teeth too early. If it feels like your child is losing teeth too young, get them into a pediatric orthodontist to try and catch the development of a crossbite before it becomes a major problem.
6. Open Bite:
Open bite is a term for when the front upper and lower teeth slant outward so they don’t touch when the mouth is shut. I may sound like a broken record but we see cases of open bite in children who excessively suck their thumbs or pacifiers. Most likely what a pediatric dentist will recommend are braces or other forms of correction like Invisalign.