Many children end up getting braces at one time or another before they reach adulthood. Braces help to correct overbites or teeth crowding in order to give your child the confident, comfortable smile they deserve. While many individuals end up getting braces in high school, or even college, there are many kids who benefit greatly from the use of braces at a younger age.
Whether it is to correct significant issues in teeth placement that cause discomfort or even pain, braces can be a simple solution that help your child smile brighter and live happier. Knowing some of the signs that they might need braces is important, so you can choose the best age to take them to an orthodontist. Here are the four warning signs that your child may need braces sooner rather than later.
1. Cheek or Roof-of-Mouth Scarring
This is one of the major symptoms to look for that would indicate your child should be fitted with braces. Scarring on the inner cheeks or roof of mouth is a sign of biting. This is due to improper alignment of teeth. It can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable, especially when attempting to eat or talk.
The simple solution is to fit your child with a set of braces, so the orthodontist can correct the oral structure. Orthodontic treatment can ensure that your child doesn’t continue to damage their sensitive tissue by biting at their cheeks and mouth accidentally.
Make sure to examine your child’s mouth and to note of any instance where they claim to have pain while brushing their teeth, eating, or talking. When young, they may not be able to identify instances that are causing them pain on their own. That is why attending regular dentist appointments and inspecting your child’s mouth as often as possible is important in maintaining their oral health and determining if they need braces.
2. Thumb Sucking or Mouth Breathing
Thumb sucking and mouth breathing are both early signs that your child may need braces. The composition of their jaw and teeth alignment can be affected by these repetitive, habitual actions. The result of thumb sucking over time is that the front teeth can protrude, and the bottom teeth end up crowding.
Many children who suck their thumbs for a few months or even years of childhood often aren’t affected. However, if the child continues to suck their thumb once adult teeth begin to grow in, they will likely experience negative effects on their oral composition.
Mouth breathing can do this as well. When a child breathes through their mouth habitually, (rather than through their nose, or through their mouth and nose interchangeably) their tongue sits on the bottom rather than the roof of their mouth. This means that the jaw tends to develop narrower than in children who breathe through their nose.
With a narrower jaw, the child may experience crowding of teeth on their lower jaw. This crowding can be painful and unhygienic. If your child is habitually breathing through their mouth or continuing to suck their thumb while their adult teeth grow in, they are at risk for crowding and other dental abnormalities. They will most likely benefit greatly from getting braces as a child.
3. Crowded or Misplaced Teeth
There are many unfortunate side effects of crowded teeth. The cosmetic implications are only the beginning of what crowding can do to your child’s health. When teeth overlap and crowd, it can cause your child discomfort and pain, and it can even cause speaking problems. Getting braces to fix the overcrowding of your child’s teeth can be a great way to rectify the situation and set them up for success. They may require the removal of some teeth, but braces will close the gaps and leave the patient with a beautifully aligned smile with the perfect number of teeth for their mouth!
The impact of crowding on oral hygiene is also important to note. When your child’s teeth overlap irregularly, getting in between the cracks and crevasses while brushing and flossing can be much harder. This means that there is more opportunity for plaque build-up and tartar, meaning more opportunity for bacteria to grow. This ultimately can lead to ailments like gum disease.
Overcrowding in the mouth can sometimes cause a mild lisp, impacting a child’s speech development. Fixing the overcrowding with braces is the best way to halt this process and ensure that your child remains healthy and strong, as well as confident in their beautiful smile.
4. Unusual Timeline with Teeth Growth
Typically, a child will lose their baby teeth on the same average timeline for their age – mostly beginning from ages 5-7. Their adult teeth will begin to grow in around the same time to replace those lost. If you notice that your child is experiencing the loss of their baby teeth and the growth of their adult teeth at a rate that is highly inconsistent with that of their peers, they may require braces in the future.
The main issue with losing baby teeth at an unusual rate is that it leads to inconsistencies in tooth and jaw alignment. Losing them prematurely can mean a big gap between then and adult teeth growing, and if they don’t fall out at all the dentist may need to remove them.
Early or late baby teeth loss can lead to other symptoms like poor alignment. Braces are a simple fix to this malady. They can rectify the results of irregular baby tooth loss, so your child does not experience pain or discomfort.
The Bottom Line
No two children are the same, which is why no blanket statement can be made about what age an individual should get braces. Your child may need braces to help them to live a more confident, healthier life, and it is important to know the warning signs that might prompt a visit to the dentist or orthodontist.