Growth and Development Monitoring
When it comes to orthodontics, there is absolutely an optimal time to begin treatment. While most patients don’t get an orthodontic evaluation until age 9 or 10, the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children see an orthodontist by age 7 or at fist sign of orthodontic problems. This is because the mouth and jaw are rapidly growing at this age, making it much easier to reposition the teeth and bite shape. Orthodontic problems identified early on are also much easier and cheaper to treat versus waiting to fix them.
Common Orthodontic Problems in Adolescents
A crossbite occurs when the upper teeth and lower teeth do not come together into the correct position when the mouth is closed. Often times, certain teeth or groups of teeth will line up in an odd or messy when biting. This is often fixed with a palatal expander, which works much better at younger ages because the jaw and mouth are softer and move easier.
An underbite is when the lower teeth are positioned in front of the upper teeth when biting. In many cases, this means the jaw is positioned too far forward. Underbites are commonly treated with braces or a jaw expander.
Crowding happens when the mouth and gums lack space to fit all teeth normally within the jaws. This can cause severe teeth displacement and rotation. This problem is much easier to treat when younger, and only gets worse and harder to treat with time.
Splayed teeth are a condition where the front teeth have an outward inclination. This is often caused by thumb-sucking in early years when the gums are soft and the front teeth are applied pressure. It can cause problems in biting and jaw alignment.
Impacted teeth are teeth that never emerge through the gums. These teeth can cause serious problems such as infection, improper eruption of nearby teeth, and crowding. If left untreated or undiagnosed, impacted canines can require intensive surgeries and expensive procedures to fix.
Besides treating orthodontic problems for improved health and functionality, tackling these issues early on in life can be beneficial in a psychosocial sense. Children are naturally sensitive around the time they would normally begin treatment, and improving the aesthetic of their mouth and jaw can be very positive for their self-confidence. Kids should be proud of who they are, and their smile is a big part of that. Addressing these orthodontic issues at a young age helps minimize confidence problems that could emerge if left untreated.