Not everyone realizes it, but approximately one out of every five Americans are plagued by malocclusion, otherwise known as a misaligned bite. Though it is certainly true that not all such individuals will need intensive dental intervention, many cases are serious to the point of causing pain. Early intervention with braces for kids can help prevent such situations from arising in adulthood. The key is for parents to be fully aware of the primary signs that their child may require braces at some point.
1. Overlapping or Crooked Teeth
If your child’s teeth appear twisted, or they overlap on another, there is a good chance that orthodontic braces will be in their future. Crooked presentation of teeth can be the result of a mouth that is simply too narrow to contain them in proper alignment, something which can prompt them to shift into awkward spaces.
2. Thumb Sucking in Childhood
The habit of thumb sucking is something common to young children, though the lion’s share of those who engage in the practice will stop before reaching the age of four. That said, roughly 12 percent of kids who are four years old are still sucking their thumbs.
The trouble is that when done beyond the very early years, the habit is known to wreak lasting damage on the teeth, often boosting the likelihood of malocclusion. Cross bites, misalignment, and overbites are common consequences of thumb sucking. Kids who have sucked their thumbs in the past should be scheduled for an appointment with an orthodontist as soon as possible so that early indicators of malocclusion can be identified.
3. Gaps in the Teeth
Gapped teeth, also referred to as diastema, can also be caused by prolonged sucking of the thumb, as the habit has the potential to pull the teeth in different directions, leaving a space between them. Gaps can also be caused by a lack of space in the jawbone, and braces have the ability to correct either of these situations once and for all.
4. Underbites and Overbites
When upper teeth overlap the lower ones, or the lower teeth cover the upper ones, braces can be also be indicated. Reasons for this can include mismatched jaw bone sizes, prolonged thumb sucking, or excessive use of pacifiers and bottles. Chewing can be difficult and sometimes even painful, so it is critical to take any affected child to see a pediatric dentist as well as an orthodontist at an early stage of development.
5. Mouth Breathing
When a child breathes through their nose, it can be due to a blocked nasal passage, or sometimes even unusual jaw sizes or enlarged tonsils. When mouth breathing occurs for an extended period of time, children can experience imbalanced facial muscles, something which can change the appearance and even the shape of their faces. All of this can combine to cause shifting of the teeth and malocclusion.
As such, if you notice your child is breathing through their mouth, it is wise to visit the pediatric orthodontist promptly. Treatment with braces will remedy malocclusion and likely the mouth breathing as well.
6. Mouth Pain Complaints
Pain in the jaw and mouth is often due to misalignment of the teeth. When the biting force of the teeth is uneven, discomfort tends to follow. As such, if you are hearing a lot of complaints from your child about mouth pain, braces may well be in order.
7. Unusual Noises from the Jaw
If your son or daughter has mentioned hearing strange sounds from their mouth or jaw, a visit to the dentist needs to happen right away. This is because the noise could be a sign of a jaw disorder such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). In many instances, braces can provide precisely the correction needed to alleviate further complications of such a disorder.
8. Bitten Cheeks
Frequent, yet accidental biting of the inside of the cheek by a child can be indicative of jaw misalignment. When this is present, the upper teeth or the lower ones can connect too closely to the inner check. This presents a real risk of pain, infection, and continued injury.
Investing in Your Child’s Dental Health
Clearly, a number of the signs suggesting that braces may be part of your child’s future are characterized by discomfort or irritation. Because of this, it is crucial to schedule an initial consultation with a Houston orthodontist once they turn seven so that any issues can be spotted and addressed early. Contact us for more information today!