The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first orthodontic check up by age 7, as early orthodontic care can minimize issues that would require more extensive treatment or even surgery later on in a child’s life.
And while orthodontists have specialized training that allow them to detect subtle abnormalities that would go unnoticed by the average person, there are several signs you can watch for yourself that may indicate a need for braces or another form of orthodontic treatment:
1. Oral habits such as sucking thumb or fingers:
While thumb or finger sucking can be soothing for infants, if continued too long into childhood the behavior can create dental problems.
2. Early or late loss of baby teeth:
Baby teeth should start falling out around age 5-6, and should have all fallen out by age 12-13.
3. Grinding or clenching of teeth:
Grinding may be heard during waking or sleeping hours; your child may also complain of headaches.
4. Difficulty chewing or biting:
Difficulty chewing or a tendency to chew on one side more than the other is often caused by alignment issues that are best detected and treated early.
5. Mouth breathing:
Mouth breathing may be observed when your child is sleeping or focused intently on a game, project, or TV show.
6. Speech Impediment:
Severe lisp or difficulty pronouncing certain words or sounds can signal a need for orthodontic intervention.
7. Crowding of teeth:
Early orthodontic treatment can align severely crowded/crooked teeth and create more space for permanent teeth to grow in properly.
8. Bite issues such as overbite or underbite:
Braces or another form of orthodontic treatment are usually required to correct bite issues, but when caught early the length (and cost) of treatment can be greatly reduced.
Being proactive early on can minimize or even eliminate the need for more extensive orthodontic treatment later in your child’s life, so if you recognize any of these signs, please contact us to schedule your free consultation and exam with Dr. Irwin today.