5 Ways You Can Prevent Serious Orthodontic Issues for Your Child
Getting your child assessed by an orthodontist early can avoid serious long-term orthodontic issues. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children have their first orthodontic visit by age seven to identify issues that can be corrected early. Most children won’t need early orthodontic intervention, but for those who do, their oral health can benefit tremendously from early vigilance around their dental health.
There are several key ways to help prevent significant orthodontic issues for your child. Some are preventable and some things, like jaw discrepancies or bite issues, are out of your hands. Your first visit with an orthodontist is valuable because, regardless of whether your child needs early treatment, it will educate you on healthy habits and an appropriate timeline for your child to visit the orthodontist in the future.
Your orthodontist in Omaha can help evaluate your child for any early problems that can be easily prevented. Sometimes when a habit is corrected early enough, it can eliminate the need for more difficult dental procedures. Also, early orthodontics plays a role in promoting self-esteem and good oral care habits.
Maintain optimal oral health with these 5 tips.
1. Avoid chronic oral habits.
Chronic habits, like thumb sucking, pacifier use, or baby bottle use, can cause serious oral health complications. Not all habits will damage the mouth, but active habits can cause a misalignment of teeth and affect the growth of the jaw and roof of the mouth. This can cause orthodontic issues and other problems like malocclusion, speech problems, eating issues, and even affect facial development.
It’s a good idea to speak to your dentist and orthodontist about a suitable time to start phasing out these oral habits. It is also recommended you discourage oral habits like thumb sucking and pacifier use by age four to prevent permanent teeth from becoming misaligned. Continuing these habits also exposes your child to viruses and bacteria.
Long-term use of a bottle, pacifier, or finger sucking can cause oral problems like an anterior open bite, cross bite, overbite, or teeth crowding.
2. Maintain good oral care.
Routine brushing and flossing can impact your child’s teeth in many ways. Poor brushing habits or consuming a high sugar diet can cause issues like tooth decay or gum problems. When tooth decay is severe, it can cause problems like an infection or even tooth loss. Early tooth loss causes orthodontic issues because it can allow for loss of space meant for the eventual permanent tooth eruption.
Also, remember to maintain preventative checkups with your pediatric dentist to ensure optimal oral health. Your dentist’s job is to examine for overall tooth and gum health and may not always identify issues surrounding your child’s developing dentition and growth pattern. If your child does receive early orthodontic treatment like partial braces, it is crucial to maintain six-month visits to evaluate for tooth decay and other dental problems like over-retained teeth.
3. Be aware of mouth breathing.
Chronic grinding at night, mouth breathing, and snoring may be an indicator of an airway or breathing problem. These problems are typically associated with a narrow palate or malocclusion. Sometimes they are congenital and other times are caused by vigorous thumb sucking or pacifier use. Early diagnosis can help prevent long-term dental and sleep problems. Early orthodontic treatment with a palate expander can help open the airway for many children, creating more space in the mouth for teeth to erupt and better sleeping habits for your young ones.
4. Wear a mouthguard for athletics.
Sports-related dental injuries can have long-term effects on the longevity of your child’s developing teeth. Minor injuries may result in fracture of a portion of the tooth, but major breakage of a permanent tooth can potentially result in the need for root canal treatment. When injuries are severe, the permanent tooth may be lost completely which results in the need for a dental implant in the future. All of these things impact the complexity of orthodontic treatment during adolescence.
Early loss of primary teeth from trauma can have long-term dental effects on your child’s mouth. Injury to a permanent tooth can result in the need for root canal treatment or even a dental implant in the future. Injury can also lead to problems with missing teeth or fractured roots, which can impact comprehensive orthodontics in the future.
5. Space maintenance is key.
Sometimes children lose teeth prematurely because of trauma or extensive tooth decay. When this happens, it disrupts the natural timing of tooth loss and eruption which may result in teeth shifting or loss of space for future eruption. To avoid long-term orthodontic issues and challenging orthodontic care, speak to your orthodontist about space maintainers.
A space maintainer can come in a variety of different appliances, but the primary goal is to preserve and maintain the space of the tooth lost. Your dentist can explain the type of space maintainer best suited to your child, which may include:
- Transpalatal arch: an upper arch appliance that is cemented to the molars with a single wire passing across the roof of the mouth
- Nance appliance: an upper-arch appliance that is similar to the transpalatal arch but incorporates acrylic to help anchor against back teeth shifting forward
- Lower lingual arch appliance: a lower-arch appliance that is cemented to the molars with a single wire bent to follow the inside of the teeth
The Tooth Doc can help guide your child’s orthodontic treatment for future oral health.
Early orthodontics can be a daunting and overwhelming prospect. The team at The Tooth Doc Orthodontics are experts in guiding your child towards early orthodontic health. If you have been told your child needs an orthodontic assessment or they’ve just turned seven and you would like a checkup for peace of mind, feel free to book an appointment with us. We look forward to helping your child achieve their brightest smile!