Kids' Health

Early Common Orthodontic Problems We Watch For In Kids

Oral health and hygiene are essential to your child’s overall development. And while parents do all they can to ensure their kids brush twice every day and go to their regular dentist appointments every six months, there are some telltale signs that no one tells you to watch out for. Orthodontists always watch for some specific symptoms that are ‘red flags’ regarding dental health.

If parents watch out for these signs and symptoms, you can ensure that your child gets timely help and grows up to have good dental hygiene. In orthodontic treatment, time is of the essence, so dentists insist on regular check-ups. It enables them to address a child’s oral health problems at a young age.

When Should Kids Visit an Orthodontist for The First Time?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child’s first dental check-up be no later than seven years of age. Even though your child’s mouth is still in a nascent development stage, orthodontists can spot subtle problems in jaw growth, tooth alignment, and the consequences of harmful oral habits in your child.

Why Should Children See an Orthodontist Before 7 Years Old?

As mentioned above, regular dental check-ups from the age of seven or before can help reveal essential symptoms to facilitate timely treatment. Here is a look at some specific reasons why children should see an orthodontist from an early age –

  • At a young age, children have highly malleable teeth and jaws. At this stage, it is easier to manipulate the growth of their teeth if needed. If the developing adult teeth underneath the gums are out of position – they can easily be redirected to grow in line. Once developed, adult teeth are not malleable or moveable.
  • An experienced orthodontist cannot just identify a problem; they can also identify where a problem may present itself soon. Visiting an orthodontist in the early years can help avoid more significant problems in the future.
  • Repeated check-ups help your orthodontist build a child’s dental health development record. It helps them understand the growth pattern that your kid’s teeth are following. If an oral health problem arises, these records can be instrumental in understanding the nature and urgency of treatment required.

What are the Common Orthodontic Problems in Kids?

Here are some telltale signs that you can watch out for in your little one to ensure they get timely orthodontic treatment. Looking for these signs will help avoid a situation wherein phase 1 appliances or braces for kids.

  1. Misalignment – Misaligned teeth are not only detrimental to facial appearance; they are also harder to clean and more susceptible to wear and tear. If your child has misaligned teeth or may have the probability of getting misalignment – regular check-ups at the dentist can help detect misalignment early.
  2. Open Bite – When the top and bottom jaws don’t meet at all, even when the mouth is closed, it is known as an open bite. Open bite could be a result of misshapen or misspaced teeth. It prevents kids from chewing and biting correctly. It may also lead to speech problems.
  3. Overbite – An overbite is when the upper teeth are too far forward compared to the lower teeth. It can lead to jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and adversely affect facial appearance.
  4. Underbite – Underbite means that the teeth on the lower jaw are too far forward compared to the lower teeth. Just like an overbite, an underbite may also lead to problems in chewing, biting, and speech. Early detection of underbite can help avoid jaw surgery in later years.
  5. Spacing – If a child’s teeth are lost prematurely due to trauma or sickness, or if a particular tooth never developed since birth – it may affect the spacing of their permanent teeth. Check if your child’s primary teeth are too small or spaced too far apart.
  6. Crowding – If teeth don’t have the space they need to grow, they may begin to crowd. Crowded teeth may overlap, twist, or become blocked out of line to find the room to grow. Crowded teeth are difficult to clean and may cause tooth decay or gum diseases.
  7. Crossbite is when some of the bottom teeth rest in front of the top teeth when the mouth is closed. It can cause permanent changes to facial structure, jaw joints, and teeth alignment. You can usually detect a crossbite with the jaw positioning of your child. Children with a crossbite may shift their jaw in one direction to help complete their mouth.

In addition to the symptoms listed above, if you notice any of the following signs in your child, it is advisable to speak to your orthodontist –

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Mouth breathing (even when they don’t have a cold)
  • Jaws that shift or make sounds
  • Speech difficulties
  • Repeated biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
  • Facial imbalance due to misaligned jaws
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth

Benefits of an Early Orthodontic Evaluation –

When you see an orthodontist for your child from an early age, they experience oral health benefits all their lives. Following are two of the most significant oral health benefits of early orthodontic evaluation –

  1. Guides Jaw Growth Effectively – Jaw growth is essential for facial development and avoids skeletal development issues. It helps avert elaborate treatments like corrective jaw surgery, tooth extraction, braces, etc. When you avail of early orthodontic treatment for your kids, your doctor can effectively guide the growth of teeth and jaws.
  2. Break Bad Oral Habits – If your child has an oral habit that may affect their teeth’ growth, a dental consultation can help you know that. Habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting may cause misaligned teeth and misshapen jaw. There are various treatments to help correct these bad habits and reverse any damage they have caused.

Early visits to the dentist may seem like a hassle, but they can offer various benefits to your kid later in their life. Most children who start orthodontic consultation from a young age don’t need any significant dental treatments or procedures in their lives. If your child is seven years old or younger, start them on a good oral health and hygiene journey by following the tips given above. Don’t forget to watch out for the telltale signs listed in this article and get timely help.


Author Bio: Dr. Satish Pai is an orthodontist and Ivy League trained dentist who has served as a faculty at Columbia University. He believes a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great. As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics and a Partner at Brite Orthodontics, he is dedicated to providing the best orthodontic treatments to his patients. He also writes to educate people about everything orthodontics and the importance of correctly aligned teeth along with good oral health. In his free time, you can find him golfing, doing yoga or surfing, and spending time with his family.


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