Should I wait until my dentist tells me my child needs braces?

Working out the best time to start your child’s orthodontic treatment can be difficult. After reading this article you will feel much more confident about making a decision about whether or not to book in for an initial consultation with an orthodontist, and will know what you need to do.

Possible indications for early orthodontic intervention

There are several signs that would suggest your child may benefit from an early  visit to the orthodontist.  These include:

  • Excessive spacing or over-crowding of the teeth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Underbites or crossbites
  • Difficulties with biting or chewing
  • Prolonged finger or thumbsucking habits
  • Snoring or breathing through the mouth.

Photo: Various Brennemans, “Awares”. Used under license. (Source.)

Your child’s self-esteem is an indicator for orthodontic treatment

Is your child confident? Does her or she run around happily, have a relaxed smile, relate well to people?

Or is your child shy? Maybe she doesn’t smile much around other people, tries not to talk too much?

We learn how to relate to others by their reactions to us. Children can be more sensitive to this than adults. Their peers can be merciless in their taunts and teasing! If they are being called names like bunny, rabbit, or even Bugs Bunny at school,  they can develop serious self-esteem issues.

Some of the strongest indicators include an unwillingness to smile. They might smile with their mouths closed: Little tight smiles that hide their teeth. Children can also unconsciously raise their hands to cover their mouths, not really engage in conversation with people they don’t know well, or even catch themselves laughing and try to ‘cover up’ their teeth.

Photo: Walt Stoneburger, “Giggles”. Used under license. (source)

The impact that this can have to people’s confidence over the long-term is significant. It can stop people from putting themselves forward, from being proactive and confident in their relationships with people. This can result in them being passed over for things later in life, including jobs and promotions.

If you start to see your child exhibiting these kinds of behaviour, it’s worthwhile taking him or her to an orthodontist for an assessment.

Dental damage is another indication treatment may be necessary

Kids are often in scrapes and accidental injuries, and some are more accident-prone than others. Typically when we think about dental damage we think first about grinding teeth, of teeth being misaligned or not growing the right way, and even of jaw alignments causing problems with teeth.

We don’t tend to think about what happens if your child dives into a pool and scrapes his or her teeth on the bottom of the pool. Kids also do silly things like run into walls, fall off their bikes, and fall over when jumping on to or over things.

If your child’s teeth are sticking out, and he or she takes a fall, then it’s very likely that their teeth will get knocked and damaged .

If your child has hit, scraped, or struck another surface as a result of an accident, it’s a sign that the teeth are sticking out too far. Even when teeth don’t look like they protrude, they can still prove to be problematic in this way.

Have your child’s teeth been assessed by an orthodontist?

The age of seven is a good time to get an assessment done, even if you aren’t sure whether it’s warranted. This age is a good one for seeing whether dental development, like overcrowding, might prove problematic in later years. And if there are issues that can be fixed early to prevent or reduce future problems, seven years old is around a good age to start treatment.

It's ok to start orthodontic treatment as young as seven years old.

Having orthodontic treatment early can reduce jaw and bite problems which should eliminate or minimise further treatment at a later age. And, no, you do not need a referral to see an orthodontist.

Book your child’s assessment now, and see if you can help improve not just their health but also their self-esteem. No referral is necessary.

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