Predicting and Preventing Future Orthodontic Issues
Your child goes through a lot of changes as they grow and develop, and there are a lot of milestones to enjoy! One of the major milestones in your child’s oral health is their first orthodontic evaluation. While your first orthodontics evaluation likely took place when you were a preteen or teenager, orthodontists now recommend that children have their first evaluation before they hit seven years of age. This change is because new technology and treatments have allowed pediatric orthodontists to predict and treat orthodontic issues early, preventing or reducing future dental issues before they become a major issue. These treatments can have lasting impacts on your child’s daily life, from their oral and overall health to their performance in school and their self-confidence. If you’re not sure exactly how an evaluation could benefit your child, however, here are 5 reasons that early orthodontic evaluations are vital to your child’s health.
Orthodontic evaluations can pinpoint respiratory issues caused by a high palate.
One major issue that is best treated by pediatric dentists and orthodontists before your child’s jaw and face finish growing is a high palate. When a child has a high palate, the roof of their mouth is tall and narrow, much more so than it should be. This problem can exist from birth due to a number of causes, including several health conditions; or it can develop over time from excessive thumb sucking or pacifier use. Regardless of the cause, a high palate can cause a wide range of serious problems for your little one, including breathing issues. This is because the roof of your child’s mouth is also the floor of their nasal cavity—if it’s taller than it should be, that takes space out of the nasal cavity. This can make breathing through their nose difficult for your child, which in turn can lead to mouth-breathing, make it more challenging to clear nasal congestion, and make your child more vulnerable to respiratory infections.
Thankfully, the fact that your child’s face and jaws are still growing enables trained dentists and orthodontists to reduce or eliminate these issues. The plates in your child’s palate haven’t fused together yet, so treatments like a palate expander are used to push them gradually apart. Amazingly, the bones then grow to fill that space, permanently widening your child’s palate. This can help improve or completely eliminate issues with breathing and congestion for your child, helping them feel more comfortable, breathe more easily, and stay healthier on a daily basis.
Early orthodontic evaluations and treatment can prevent sleep problems.
If your child is suffering from breathing issues due to a high palate, they may also suffer from issues sleeping. Snoring is very common in children who have a high palate, and that alone can disrupt their sleep somewhat depending on how deeply your child sleeps. The greater concern, however, is sleep apnea. This isn’t a problem for every child with a high palate, but it is a condition you should look out for because it can affect the way your child feels on a daily basis and may pose risks to their health if it goes untreated. If a high palate is the root cause of your child’s obstructive sleep apnea, early orthodontic treatment can make all the difference by opening up their airway and making it easier to breathe. The results are permanent, so the treatment will benefit your little one for a lifetime!
Early orthodontic evaluations may benefit children who are struggling in school.
When your child isn’t sleeping well due to breathing issues, it can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or behavioral issues, all of which can harm their performance in school. These issues have a wide range of causes, but when dental issues like a high palate are the issue, early orthodontic treatment can help your child’s energy levels, ability to concentrate, and behavior.
Speech issues can also harm your child’s performance or confidence in school. These aren’t always linked to orthodontic issues, but they can be. We use our tongues, palate, and teeth to make the wide variety of sounds found in language; so orthodontic issues like crooked teeth or a high palate can affect your child’s ability to make certain sounds. Addressing these issues resolves the root cause by providing the right surfaces for your child to make sounds with, helping your child to overcome speech issues like lisps. These changes can each make a drastic difference in your child’s performance in school, helping to make sure that they have what they need to thrive.
It reduces the need for future treatments.
Even when your child doesn’t have all of their adult teeth yet, your dentist can scan your child’s mouth and predict where their adult teeth will come in. This allows them to identify issues like overcrowding before they actually become a problem—and that gives them the time to get ahead of it! This helps ensure that your child’s adult teeth have the room they need to erupt properly, which also helps them come in straighter. Because of this, early orthodontic treatments cut down on or eliminate the need for orthodontic care later in your child’s life.
If they do need orthodontic care as a teenager, it will likely be an easier and shorter treatment process than it would have been without earlier intervention. For example, using a palate expander to make space for your child’s adult teeth eliminates overcrowding before it becomes a problem. This saves your child from needing tooth extractions to make room for their teeth after they’ve already erupted. Similarly, creating more room for adult teeth and helping them erupt straighter in the first place can reduce or eliminate the need for your child to get braces.
Early orthodontic treatment helps your child take better care of their oral health.
Building healthy oral hygiene habits is essential for all children, but it’s even more essential during orthodontic treatment. When your child builds these habits and understands their importance early, they’re much more likely to keep up with them as they grow older. Straight, even teeth have fewer nooks and crannies where bacteria can build up over time, so they’re simply easier to clean. This helps your child take better care of their teeth at home, lowering their chances of getting cavities or gum disease.
Visiting a great Vancouver pediatric dentist can also ensure that your child develops a positive view of the dentist. This makes dental appointments—including twice-yearly professional cleanings—more enjoyable for you and your child while they’re young, but it can also help them well into adulthood. If they grow up with a positive view of the dentist, they’re less likely to suffer from dental anxiety and will likely be more willing to schedule regular professional cleanings for themselves when they grow up, resulting in better oral health throughout their lifetime.
Early orthodontic evaluations and treatments revolve around the idea that prevention is the best medicine. Spotting and treating issues before they arise can help your child develop strong, straight teeth and lessens the orthodontic treatments they may need down the road. That would have been nice when you were a kid, right? Thankfully, your kids can benefit from these treatments now! If you’d like to begin the process, you can contact us to schedule an appointment at our Vancouver, WA, pediatric dentist office at any time!