There are many functional and aesthetic reasons for children needing orthodontic treatment. Parents should bring their kids to see an Orthodontist as early as age 7 or 8, so any major issues can be addressed early on and treated.
What are some medical or functional reasons that children might need orthodontics?
Dr. Justina LaPoulas: Well, there are a few. A common reason children need braces, or any type of orthodontic treatment for that matter, is that they don’t have enough room in their mouths for all of their adult teeth. Maybe their jaws are too narrow or one of their jaws grew that way because of maybe a thumb sucking habit. There are a lot of reasons, and now the jaws just can’t accommodate all of the teeth or allow for a proper bite or occlusion. Oftentimes, a narrow jaw causes what is called a crossbite. Basically, that’s when the upper teeth are kind of squished inside the lower teeth and we really don’t want that. In a case like that, we want to treat the child earlier on and expand those jaws to gain the space needed for the teeth to come in and for the jaws to grow properly. This type of treatment tends to work best while the children are young and still growing, and we can really get a nice result and a nice, wide smile that way.
Some other functional or medical issues I see often in the office involve an improper bite, or a malocclusion, we say. Either the top jaw and the top teeth are too far forward in relation to the lower, or the reverse of that, the lower jaw and the lower teeth might be too far forward in relation to the upper. Let’s see, impacted teeth are another reason that people come to see me. This means that an adult tooth got stuck for one reason or another, and did not erupt into the mouth at all. These are usually your canine teeth, those pointy teeth towards the front, but it can really happen to any teeth in the mouth.
When you come in for an exam, if we suspect anything like that we will take a specific type of x-ray and look for that, and even look for missing teeth. Missing teeth is another issue we see a lot in our office. If the adult tooth that seems to be taking forever to come in, or you know, something just seems off to you, it is possible that the tooth could be missing entirely. Again, something we would just see in one of the x-rays. All of these issues that I’m talking about now can and should be addressed with orthodontics, and the best way to make sure that happens is to come in and see us.
What are some common aesthetic issues that children have that can be resolved with orthodontics?
Dr. Justina LaPoulas: Yes, aesthetics are usually the driving force bringing our patients into our office, and oftentimes parents see that their children’s teeth just don’t look right or their smile looks crooked, or perhaps the child him or herself just does not like something about their own smile, and their instincts are usually right. There is usually something going on. The teeth might be coming in too close together or too far apart, or maybe too far forward, some of the things I already mentioned. All of these issues can be addressed early on with orthodontics.
Do you have to wait for all the adult teeth to come in before considering orthodontics?
Dr. Justina LaPoulas: Actually, it is best to come in before all the adult teeth are in. Not a big deal if that has already come and gone for you, but the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that you come in for an orthodontic exam as early as age seven or eight, so a little earlier than people usually expect. Even if the child is not ready for treatment at this time, we can get a good idea of how the jaws are growing, how the adult teeth are coming in, and perhaps identify problems, if there might be any. Usually patients are going to be between 10 and 14 years old when they actually get their braces on, but we do like to see them before that just to make sure we are monitoring their growth and their tooth development as everything kind of comes in. Really, anytime is a good time to come in. It’s never too late.
What are some different orthodontic treatment options available to children?
Dr. Justina LaPoulas: Great question, we have a lot of different options for kids these days. It’s really, really great. The best option really depends on your child’s specific needs. To give you an idea, we have treatments ranging from the traditional metal braces, which patients really can have a lot of fun with and you can get to choose your colors each month, kind of mix and match what you want, do the top one color and the bottom another color, whatever you want. We also have clear braces if you’re looking for a more aesthetic looking option, something more subtle. We do a lot of Invisalign as well, which is basically a clear retainer like appliance that is still active in accomplishing the tooth movement that we need, and you can really hardly see that one at all, and it’s working while we are aligning your teeth, so that’s a nice aesthetic option as well. Definitely lots of good options out there for everyone in fun and subtle ways.
Should children receive orthodontic treatment before a certain age?
Dr. Justina LaPoulas: As I mentioned earlier, the best time to come in for an exam and consultation is age seven or eight. When kids come in early like that, it’s nice. We get an idea of how things are going, we can make sure that we time their treatment right and take advantage of their growth spurts to get the best results possible, but it really, really is never too late to come in for an exam. We can treat you at any age, and we want to help you get your smile looking its best and you feeling great.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Justina LaPoulas, visit www.stoneridgedental.com or call (586) 739-6400 to schedule an appointment.