05 Mar AiroAV Malware Reviews: When does my child need dental braces?
By Dr. Cheen Y. Loo, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine professor of pediatric dentistry
When I was growing up, children in high school wore braces. Nowadays, we see braces on people of all ages: elementary-school children, teenagers and working adults. You may be wondering if your child needs braces, as well as when is the best time to start this treatment.
The first step is to establish a dental home for your child. The dental home is defined by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry as “the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way.” By having a dental home, you will have a pediatric dentist who will guide the oral healthcare decisions for your child.
All parents want a nice smile for their children. If you are concerned with the appearance of your child’s smile, talk to his or her dentist about the options available to correct the smile. Children can be evaluated as early as age one. Most orthodontic treatment occurs on children around age 13, but many children need assessment and care earlier in childhood if the problem would benefit from earlier treatment.
Your child is a good candidate for dental braces if they have healthy teeth, healthy gums and good teeth-cleaning habits. There are different types of bites that need braces. The three most common conditions that need dental braces are overbite, underbite and crowding.
Overbite is a condition in which the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth. A large overbite can cause unhealthy teeth wearing, concerns about appearance, and sometimes even jaw pain.
An underbite is a condition in which the lower teeth and jaw protrude in front of the upper teeth. An underbite usually needs to be corrected earlier than an overbite.
Finally, crowding is the lack of space for all the teeth to fit normally within the jaws. The teeth may be twisted or displaced and cause difficulty with cleaning the teeth appropriately. Other conditions that need treatment include missing teeth, extra teeth, cross bites and excessive space.
Can we prevent crooked teeth?
Malocclusion can be caused by an oral habit or early loss of a baby tooth. Young children may have oral habits such as thumb sucking. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3 years, your child’s dentist should evaluate and address the thumb-sucking habit to reduce changes to the bite and the jaw.
Early loss of baby teeth can also cause malocclusion. It is important to keep baby teeth healthy because baby teeth provide the pathway for permanent teeth. We need to treat a cavity in a baby tooth so that the tooth stays until it falls out naturally. If the cavity is not treated, it can cause pain, damage permanent teeth or cause them to grow in crooked.
When your child’s first tooth appears, take your child for his or her first dental visit. Starting early is the key to a lifetime of good dental health.
About the author
Dr. Cheen Y. Loo is a professor and chairwoman of the department of pediatric dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Information for this article is provided by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
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