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Worried your child has crooked permanent teeth coming in? Ensuring your child receives the proper dental care could help them avoid issues later on.

For example, crooked teeth can make it easier for bacteria to take root. This can lead to problems such as gingivitis or periodontal disease. Meanwhile, a straighter smile can improve their oral health and their self-confidence.

There were an estimated 10,658 orthodontists practicing in the United States as of 2017. That means you have a lot of options for your child if they’re ready to see an orthodontist.

Not sure if your child can benefit from an appointment? Here are the three signs it’s time to ask “Does my kid need braces?” After reading this guide, you’ll know when to take your child to see an orthodontist as soon as they need one.

Get ahead of the curve with this guide!

1. Bite or Spacing Issues

It’s better to set treatment for major teeth developmental issues sooner rather than later. Early treatment will support your child’s natural growth process. As a result, beginning treatment as soon as possible can ensure a better outcome.

When they’re younger, your child’s jawbones are still soft. This makes them pliable and therefore more responsive to corrective procedures.

Taking your child to see an orthodontist when they’re younger can make the procedures work faster. They’re also likely to work more effectively than they do for teens and adults who are more developed.

Many parents ask, “What’s the first sign my kid should see an orthodontist?”

First, determine if your child has any bite or spacing issues.

Protruding Teeth

As many as 25% of children have buck teeth; a bite problem where the teeth protrude outward. Protruding teeth are often prone to chipping and fractures. These teeth can often cause issues with your child’s self-image.

A severe underbite occurs when the lower jaw grows larger than the upper jaw. This can lead to biting and chewing problems. In these instances, an orthodontist might suggest braces or headgear.

These orthodontic appliances can help correct protruding teeth while you’re child is still in development. This can then decrease their chances of needing surgery.

Severe Crossbite

“Does my child need braces?”

Braces aren’t always the go-to fix. For example, your child might have a severe crossbite. This condition occurs when the upper teeth close inside your child’s lower teeth.

A severe crossbite could cause your child’s teeth to unevenly wear.

To treat this condition, the orthodontist might suggest a device called a palatal expander.

This device painlessly widens the upper jaw over time. It’s especially effective when your child is still growing and the jaw isn’t fully developed.

Waiting too long to treat this condition, however, can require more complicated treatment options. For example, your child might require oral surgery to correct a severe crossbite. Speaking with an orthodontist while your child is younger can help you determine when they’ll need treatment.

Severe Crowding

Crowding occurs when the jaw is too small to provide space for all of your child’s permanent teeth. Some orthodontists might recommend palatal expansion or a tooth extraction for this condition. These options will help adult teeth emerge from below the gums properly aligned.

In some cases, your child might also need braces later on.

However, treating severe crowding early on can help shorten their treatment time and limit complications.

2. Difficulties

The Mayo Clinic suggests taking your children in for an orthodontic evaluation by the time they turn seven. However, the best time to take your child in to see the orthodontist depends on the severity and cause of their misaligned teeth.

Your child might experience difficulties with their teeth while they’re in development.

For example, perhaps your child’s teeth don’t meet on either side. In some cases, your child’s teeth might grow in crooked. In other cases, there’s too much space between each tooth.

Crooked teeth are one of the most common reasons people visit an orthodontist. There are many reasons your child’s teeth might grow in crooked. For example, perhaps their permanent teeth are growing around their baby teeth.

Maybe their jaw isn’t large enough to accommodate their adult teeth yet.

These difficulties can prevent your child from cleaning their teeth properly. It can also cause self-esteem issues as they grow older.

An orthodontist can determine the issue and suggest the best solution, such as Invisalign or braces. These treatment options can help your child’s teeth grow into the proper place.

Other issues include trouble chewing or biting. Misaligned teeth can make it difficult for your child to eat. They might bite their tongue or the insides of their cheeks as well.

Another sign your child should see an orthodontist is difficulties speaking. Speech problems are sometimes a matter of misaligned speech. If your child has difficulty speaking, make an appointment.

3. Habitual Actions

Thumb sucking and mouth breathing are two habits your child can develop as a result of misaligned teeth.

Thumb sucking usually ends between the ages of 2 and 4. If this persists, the pressure of a digit on the front teeth and upper jaw can cause the teeth to move apart. Meanwhile, the jaws can change shape.

This can lead to an open bite and impair your child’s speech.

Tongue thrusting can cause an open bite as well. Check to make sure your child isn’t pushing their tongue against the inside of their teeth.

Another habit your child might develop is mouth breathing. An abnormal breathing pattern, this occurs when your child’s mouth remains open to allow air directly to the lungs. This can cause alterations to the muscular function of the tongue and face.

Mouth breathing can also cause the upper and lower jaw to grow abnormally, which leads to additional orthodontic problems.

If your child has any of these habits, it’s time to see an orthodontist.

Straighten out Young Smiles: 3 Signs Your Child Should See an Orthodontist

By visiting an orthodontist while they’re younger, your child can avoid larger orthodontic issues in the future. Then, they can grow up with a beautiful smile and strong self-confidence!

Set your child up for success. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.