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Taking care of your child’s teeth, and encouraging them to do so themselves, is crucial to developing life-long oral health. During their early years, a child goes through a significant amount of growth and development, and the same goes for their teeth. Whether it is looking after first teeth, or solving problems with their new adult teeth, there are many ways in which we can help children achieve a healthy and beautiful smile. Let’s take a closer look.

The Importance of Early Visits

We all know that regular dental checkups for your child are important, but what age is best to begin taking your child to the orthodontist? The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist no later than age 7. At this age, your child will typically have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for your orthodontist to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery. However, early orthodontic evaluation doesn’t mean treatment has to start right away. In reality, most kids don’t begin active orthodontic treatment until they’re between the ages of 9 and 14 years old.

Establishing Oral Hygiene Routines

One of the most important ways to help your child develop a beautiful and healthy smile is to create an effective oral hygiene routine at home. As soon as teeth appear, they can be gently brushed using a soft silicone finger brush.

When children are able to handle a toothbrush, make brushing part of their daily routine. Many children can be reluctant to brush their teeth, so always make it a fun part of the day. Establishing dental hygiene habits early on will help make it part of their lifestyle as they grow older, helping to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Common Orthodontic Issues in Children

Orthodontic issues in children are typically caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms that may indicate a need for an orthodontic consultation include:

  1. Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth: Children typically start losing their baby teeth around age 6 and have all their permanent teeth by age 12 or 13. If baby teeth are lost too early, due to decay or injury, the remaining teeth can shift and prevent the permanent teeth from erupting properly. On the other hand, if baby teeth are lost too late, it can also hinder the proper eruption of permanent teeth.

  2. Difficulty in Chewing or Biting: This can be a sign of misaligned teeth, an improper bite, or jaw issues. It can lead to discomfort while eating, and over time, can cause wear on the teeth and strain on the jaw muscles.

  3. Mouth Breathing: Chronic mouth breathing in children can sometimes be a sign of an obstructed airway. It can also lead to a few different orthodontic issues like a long, narrow face and palate, gummy smiles, and improper growth and alignment of teeth.

  4. Shifting or Clicking Jaws: These symptoms could indicate a problem with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the hinge connecting your jaw to your child’s skull. TMJ disorders can cause pain, difficulty chewing, and changes in the way the teeth fit together.

  5. Cheek Biting: Frequent accidental cheek biting could be due to a misalignment of the upper and lower jaws or teeth. This can cause discomfort and sores in the mouth of your child.

  6. Facial Imbalance: Facial imbalance can occur when the jaws grow at different rates. This can result in asymmetry, where one side of the face looks different from the other. Facial imbalance can also affect the alignment and function of the teeth.

Children’s Orthodontic Treatments

There are a variety of treatment options open to children who are dealing with the above orthodontic issues. 

Braces are made up of a series of brackets and wires that are fixed to the front of your child’s teeth. The wires provide a steady presser that gently shifts teeth to a more optimal and healthy position.

Clear Aligners (like Invisalign) work in a similar way, yet they are removable and can be taken out of the mouth for easy cleaning.

The best type of treatment will depend on the specific issue and, for misalignment, your preferences. Your orthodontist will be able to advise on the most beneficial action for your child’s particular situation.

More Advice on Children’s Teeth

It’s never too early to start taking care of your child’s teeth and help them develop a healthy and happy smile that will give them confidence as they grow. If you are looking for more advice or would like to know more about orthodontic treatments for children or teens, contact Hulse Orthodontics in Carlsbad today.

Dr. Cameron Hulse

Author Dr. Cameron Hulse

Dr. Cameron Hulse grew up in Southern Orange County, California. While in his own orthodontic treatment in high school, Dr. Hulse realized how much his new smile changed him and decided he wanted to improve other’s teeth and smiles. Dr. Hulse pursued his dream and completed a BS in Zoology at Brigham Young University. Then he was selected to attend the University of Southern California’s prestigious School of Dentistry where he received his D.D.S.. After Dental School, he switched coasts and completed his orthodontic residency at Jacksonville University where he received his CAGS.

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