Orthodontics for Kids

Carrollton Orthodontist for Kids

While there’s no minimum age for a child to have their first orthodontic visit, the American Association of Orthodontists does recommend that all children have an initial orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re seven years old. At this age, most kids will have a good mix of primary and permanent teeth, allowing Dr. Krieger to perform a thorough examination and catch any potential tooth and jaw problems before they become more serious. When we see children in time to initiate early treatment (sometimes called interceptive treatment), our team is often able to diagnose and correct oral issues before they become severe enough to require more invasive treatment.

How orthodontics for kids can improve oral health

Krieger Orthodontics is a strong believer in preventative care! We treat many young patients, and have seen firsthand how individualized treatment at the right time can make a positive difference to their oral health. Interceptive treatment gives us the opportunity to:

  • correct and guide the growth of a child’s jaw so the permanent teeth can come through in better alignment
  • regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
  • create more space for crowded teeth
  • correct bad habits like extended thumb or finger sucking
  • help improve some minor speech problems

Although some treatments require all the permanent teeth being erupted, early orthodontic evaluations and other available measures can make comprehensive treatment faster and better. Delaying evaluations until there’s an actual problem can end up costing parents more time, money, and may result in more intensive treatment.

Issues that orthodontics for kids is able to treat

Orthodontic treatment can correct a number of oral issues, from simple to complex. This includes:

Crowding and spacing

Spacing issues can result from a prematurely lost tooth, teeth that never develop, or from teeth that are too small or spaced too far apart. If crowding is a problem, it can often be corrected by expanding the arches or removing certain teeth.

Misalignment

Teeth can be successfully aligned at almost any age. However, crooked teeth are more susceptible to uneven damage and wear. Over time, this can affect the shape and position of the surrounding gum tissue over time, causing it to be compromised. Correcting crooked teeth at an earlier age can help prevent some of this excessive wear and tear.

Overbite (or protrusive front teeth)

Apart from the aesthetics, front teeth that are obviously protruding can also cause pain in the jaw and possible speech issues. While we can’t always permanently correct an overbite until a child’s mouth has finished growing, there are a number of things we can do to help reduce the severity of the problem, making things easier until that growth is complete.

Underbite

An underbite can be caused by problems with either the teeth or the jaw. Even when a waiting period is involved, early treatment is paramount with underbites in order to avoid bite-shifting and damage to the front teeth. There are various methods we can use to try and normalize the bite as much as possible, as soon as possible. One includes “jumping the bite” by using braces or headgear to get a handle on a young child’s underbite before completing treatment in their teenage years. Underbite patients who receive early treatment between the ages of about 7-10 tend to be much less likely to need jaw surgery at an older age.

Posterior Crossbite

Posterior crossbites can cause crowding, and may also cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other. If we expand the upper jaw in childhood, we can often reduce crowding and create space for the front teeth to come through uninterrupted. Expansion can also eliminate any shifting that may be present due to a constricted upper jaw.

Anterior Open Bites and Deep Bites

These bite problems occur vertically, and can generally be spotted by the time a child is ready for their first orthodontic appointment. In bites that are too deep, the top teeth completely cover the bottom ones when biting, indicating a small lower jaw. In an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough, and this may be a sign that there is a finger, thumb, or tongue habit causing dental problems.

Understanding orthodontics for kids

Looks can be deceiving! It can be difficult to assess a child’s need for orthodontics by simply observing their outward appearance. Many orthodontic issues will be visible only to the trained eye of an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Krieger. There are, however, a few things to watch for that could indicate the need for orthodontic attention in a young child, including:

  • losing the baby teeth very early or very late
  • difficulties biting or chewing food
  • mouth breathing
  • finger or thumb sucking
  • crowded or misplaced teeth
  • jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
  • teeth that come together abnormally
  • jaws that don’t come together at all
  • jaws and teeth that aren’t proportionate to the rest of the face
  • crowded front teeth from around the age of seven or eight

The importance of orthodontics for kids

Most children will lose all their baby teeth by the time they’re entering their teen years. Throughout these years, the jaw bones will continue to harden, and will eventually stop growing completely.

Orthodontic procedures that are performed after this point will often be more involved and take more time. They may sometimes involve treatments like tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, and can also help reduce the need for extractions or surgery in the future.

The first step in any orthodontic treatment should be scheduling an appointment for a child’s first orthodontic evaluation. Here at Krieger Orthodontics, we proudly offer free initial consultations to all patients. These early orthodontic evaluations are an important part of giving children the best chance for a beautifully aligned, fully functional smile that will last a lifetime.