Typically, orthodontic treatments like braces are usually associated with teenagers and adults. However, did you know that it's almost never too early to visit an orthodontist? In fact, it's recommended that you take your child to an orthodontist as soon as you see signs of an orthodontic problem like an underbite, tooth crowding or misalignment due to thumb-sucking. Even if your child's teeth appear healthy, you should still bring them to an early orthodontist before the age of 7. That's because there are many orthodontic problems that are best off treated as early as possible to avoid serious complications in the future.
Curious? Here's how early orthodontic treatment will help your child SMILE.
S is for Sleep Disorders
Often, straightening teeth with braces is seen as a purely aesthetic decision. However, this couldn't be further from the future. A misaligned jaw can also cause health problems, even in young children. One such problem is disordered sleep. Research has found that a misaligned jaw joint is actually responsible for many cases of sleep apnea. The misalignment affects the position of the tongue, blocking a child's airways as they sleep. If your child's jaw is imbalanced, early interceptive orthodontic treatment can help guide its growth without surgery, reducing or even correcting your child's sleep disorder.
M is for Minimizing Risk
Another problem with teeth that grow in crooked or stick out too far is that they're more likely to face damage. Teeth that don't sit in the mouth properly can easily get broken or knocked out on impact. This can take a lot of expensive and invasive dental treatments to rectify, including root canals and implants. The risk is increased when overcrowding and misalignment make it difficult for your child to clean their teeth properly, leading the teeth to become diseased and fragile. Early treatment will keep rogue teeth in check and get them back into place before damage occurs.
I is for Instilling Confidence
Most people know that crooked teeth can make teenagers feel self-conscious. However, many neglect to realise that even younger children can face self-esteem issues over tooth imbalances. Numerous children are bullied over the way their teeth look every day, and as much as you try to tell your child to brush off the bullies, that won't make them go away. Early correction of orthodontic problems can really instil confidence in a child. Not only will this make them happier, but it will also allow them to navigate their educational and social environments without being hampered by mean comments.
L is for Lifestyle Changes
Sometimes, future orthodontic problems are completely avoidable with some lifestyle changes. In many cases, a child's teeth shift out of alignment because of harmful habits like thumb-sucking, prolonged pacifier use, or teeth grinding. Your child's orthodontist will be able to advise you on how any of your child's habits could cause problems like crossbites or tooth wear over time. Then, they'll give you advice on behavioural techniques or even habit-breaking appliances to stop the habit in its tracks before it causes damage.
E is for Eruption Control
It's important that all your child's adult teeth erupt in the right place. If they come in at odd angles or don't have any room to push through at all, it won't take long for your child's teeth to shift out of alignment. This can also happen when an adult tooth is too slow to grow in. Unfortunately, misaligned teeth can be difficult to correct. Your child may require surgery or even need a perfectly healthy adult tooth extracted if it grows in the wrong place. Thankfully, an early orthodontic examination can identify these eruption problems early enough to control them with appliances like space maintainers or retainers.