Just like any other field, there are trends in dentistry and orthodontics. Today, over 20 percent of dentists are doing the work of a general orthodontist, fitting patients with bands, brackets and clear aligners. Another trend is adults wearing braces. Almost 30 percent of people wearing braces today are adults, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
There is one trend that has not changed, however, and that is children and teens getting braces. So many wear them that it almost seems to be a rite of passage in the U.S. to have braces especially during teen years. Right now, there are over 4 million children aged 6-18 wearing braces.
It is recommended that babies go to the dentist after their first tooth arrives. It is also recommended that all children should have a general orthodontist appointment by age 7. Even though your dentist is an excellent resource for letting you know if your child will need braces, there are a few telltale signs that you as a parent can follow as your child grows.
The habit of thumb-sucking can cause a child’s teeth to lean outward. It can also cause teeth crowding especially in the bottom teeth. If your child doesn’t stop the habit by the age of four, they will be affecting their permanent teeth. This will mean that most likely they will end up needing braces.
Your child may need braces if they lose their baby teeth too late or too early. When teeth are lost too early, it can cause adult teeth to be crooked and can impact their jaw muscle and bone development. If the baby teeth stay in the mouth too long, this can also be a problem. In this case, it often happens that the new teeth are crowded together. This makes it difficult for the mouth to naturally push out the baby teeth. Both will lead to orthodontic treatment to correct issues.
If you notice that your child is developing an overbite, crossbite or underbite, then you know their jaws are not matching up correctly. When teeth don’t meet and line up as they should, it can cause chewing issues, tongue biting and possible speech problems.
If your child keeps their mouth open often, this may be a sign of mouth breathing. This can affect their face and the growth of their teeth. When they are mouth breathing, their tongue cannot sit on the roof of their mouth and this causes their jaw to narrow and their face to elongate which in turn leads to not enough room for teeth to grow properly.
When your child’s teeth are too close or overlapping, it can cause much more than just cosmetic factors. Crowding can cause issues with alignment, lisps, mouth breathing, chewing problems or frequent tongue or cheek biting. It can also cause problems for your child with flossing and brushing properly.
Many people just associate having braces with cosmetic issues and straightened teeth, when in fact it is so much more. Good dental hygiene with properly spaced teeth, healthy gums and jaw, lead to better health overall for your child. Keeping watch on the possible setbacks and taking your child to the orthodontist in addition to regular dental checkups will keep them healthy leading into adulthood.