When Should My Child Be Evaluated for Braces?
Keeping an eye on the development of your child’s teeth and jaws.
When your child’s first permanent teeth start coming in, you may begin to wonder whether or not they’ll need orthodontic treatment and when you should take them in for their first appointment. Everyone’s teeth develop at a slightly different rate, so it’s hard to pin down a specific age when most children will need to receive braces; some children need braces earlier or later than their peers.
Your child’s bite and alignment has been monitored by their pediatric dentist at every visit. Despite this, every child should have an appointment specifically to evaluate their orthodontic needs at age seven or eight. This may sound very early to you—especially since your child still has baby teeth left—but the alignment of their jaws and developing bite needs to be evaluated even before all permanent molars have erupted. Research and our experience as pediatric dentists in Vancouver has shown us that the information that is gathered from these early appointments can benefit your child for years to come. We understand that it can be confusing, however, so we’ve put together an explanation of why early detection is so important, what it involves, and how it can benefit your child.
During your child’s first appointment, the pediatric dentist will examine your child’s teeth, jaws, and bite to determine how they’re developing. This helps them to spot issues early and enables them to employ a range of treatments to lessen or prevent any problems. Dental problems that are treated at an early age include overcrowding, underbites, deepbites, crossbites, and teeth that are spaced too far apart.
The benefits of early treatment are numerous in both the short- and long-term, especially since some dental issues are simply easier to treat if steps are taken to remedy the issue early. When overcrowding is noticed early, for example, steps can be taken to create more room for adult teeth to erupt in your child’s mouth. This saves your child from more invasive, painful treatments in the future while creating room in their mouth for their adult teeth. Orthodontics can also guide your child’s adult teeth during eruption, save space for teeth that have yet to erupt, help reduce the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth, and can even help create facial symmetry by influencing jaw growth.
Early orthodontic treatments aren’t always needed, but it’s best to take your child for their first orthodontic evaluation before the recommended age of seven just to be sure. Receiving the early treatment they need can save your child from going through more extensive orthodontic treatments when they’re older, simplifying future treatments, and lessening the amount of time they’ll need to wear braces or clear aligners.
If your child does need orthodontic treatment, there are a lot of options for you to choose from based on your preferences, budget, and your child’s needs. Various treatment options specific to your child’s needs will be recommended after your child’s initial consultation which includes a complete evaluation, measurements, and diagnosis of any malocclusion. Dr. Gagneja will recommend a customized, individually personalized appliance for your child.
Early orthodontic treatment that garners much less attention is palate expanders; they’re used to remedy crossbites or to create more space in your child’s mouth for adult teeth. Palatal expanders are placed on your child’s top back molars and work similarly to braces. But instead of your child’s teeth being the focus of movement as they are with braces, a palate expander is moving your child’s palate by exerting slowly increasing outward pressure on the palate. This causes it to expand and encourages the bone and cartilage to grow into the new space, creating more space for adult teeth on your child’s jaw.
A properly formed palate is important for overall health as well as oral health.
When placed early, a palate expander can take advantage of the fact that your child’s jaws aren’t done growing and their palate hasn’t fused together yet, making the process quicker. While it’s never too late to get orthodontic treatment, ensuring that your child gets an orthodontic evaluation and receives any necessary treatments early will speed the process along in most cases.
Our pediatric dentists are proud to offer orthodontic treatments in our office so that you won’t have to travel across Vancouver to see a new kids’ dentist. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office to learn more.