Signs that Your Child May Need Braces

orthodontists DFWMany parents believe that they don’t even need to think about scheduling appointments with an orthodontist until their children are at least in their pre-teen years, but that is not necessarily the case. Signs of problems with the alignment of a child’s teeth can emerge much earlier.

In fact, orthodontists recommend that children be evaluated as early as age 6 or 7 to determine if braces will be needed or if an early orthodontic intervention may preclude the need for braces or reduce the amount of time a child must spend wearing them.

Parents can also be on the lookout for signs that may increase the likelihood that braces will be needed. These symptoms include:

  • Premature loss of baby teeth (which serve as placeholders until the permanent teeth erupt into the correct position).
  • Delayed loss of baby teeth (if the baby teeth remain in the mouth too long, the permanent teeth may erupt in the wrong spot)
  • A small jaw that may lead to crowding
  • An extended habit of thumb sucking
  • Visibly misaligned jaws that do not meet properly
  • Mouth breathing

In performing the initial evaluation, an orthodontist will visually inspect the child’s teeth and may take x-rays as well. That first appointment is painless.

At some point, either at the initial consultation or at a follow-up appointment, the orthodontist will also take impressions of your child’s teeth that will be used in the treatment planning, as well.

Orthodontic treatment doesn’t necessarily always involve braces, either. In younger children, other appliances may be used to manipulate the jaw’s growth to bring the upper and lower jaws back into the correct location. At the initial evaluation, the orthodontist should be able to give you a preliminary projection of what treatment will be most appropriate for your child’s case.

If you notice any problems with the alignment of your child’s teeth, schedule a consultation with an orthodontist. Even if no visible problems are apparent, a child can benefit from an orthodontic evaluation to see if any future problems can be expected.