Getting braces is a fairly common experience for adolescents and teens in the United States. In fact, at any given time in the US, about 4 million children and adults wear braces, a vast majority of whom are under 18 years old.
Here at McGill Orthodontics in Easton and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, we know your child’s health and well-being are top determining factors whether you’re signing them up for field hockey or they need braces and every other decision in between.
Let’s begin by addressing the real purpose behind getting braces in the first place. Spoiler alert: It’s about so much more than capturing a beautiful, confidence-inducing smile.
While perfectly straight teeth and a properly aligned jawbone do ultimately result in a gorgeous smile, there are overall health and oral health ramifications to a misaligned bite and crooked teeth. In addition to allowing your child to bite and chew their food properly, straight teeth and an aligned jaw help them speak clearly.
Other benefits to straight teeth and proper jaw alignment include making it easier for your child to clean their teeth properly as well as reducing their risk of cavities and gum disease.
When teeth are crooked, brushing and flossing play out more like a daily obstacle course challenge than simply executing an oral hygiene program. In turn, when your child can’t properly remove food debris and address plaque buildup, they’re more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.
When it comes to your child’s oral health, one of the best things you can do is be attentive and look for things that may indicate a bite issue is developing. In addition to speaking with a lisp or not forming words clearly, if your child frequently bites their cheeks or tongue when chewing, it could mean that there’s an alignment problem.
Keep an eye out for these five common bite issues, also known as malocclusions, which may signal a problem in the position of your child’s upper and lower jaw.
Remarkably, about half of the population around the world has crooked teeth, which is the main reason most patients get braces. A crowding issue is usually the reason crooked teeth happen. It typically comes down to the size of your child’s jaw, having big teeth, or a combination of the two. Regardless of the root cause, the result is the same — there simply isn’t enough real estate for all their teeth to properly erupt. Crowding may also cause rotated teeth.
Oddly sized teeth, a problem with jaw size, or a combination of the two may also result in a picket fence or staggered teeth appearance. Gapped teeth may put your child at a higher risk for gum disease, and if left untreated, may lead to chipped or cracked teeth since it throws off the balance of force when chewing or biting
Another result of crowding is overlapping teeth issues such as overbites and underbites. With an overbite, the front teeth and upper jaw overlap your child’s lower front teeth. In contrast, their lower teeth overlap their upper teeth in the case of an underbite.
With a crossbite, one or more upper teeth are positioned so they actually fit inside the lower teeth. A crossbite typically occurs due to a bone misalignment or an issue with your child’s baby teeth. If left untreated, a crossbite can ultimately lead to a variety of oral complications like jaw pain, temporomandibular disorders (TMD), as well as excessive wear on their teeth enamel.
With a malocclusion known as an open bite, your child’s top and bottom teeth can’t meet, which leaves them stuck in an open position. Common causes of open bites are problems with teeth alignment, jaw position, or some combination of both problems.
In addition to being observant and looking for signs of orthodontic issues, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children see an orthodontist for an evaluation no later than age seven or at the first sign of a bite problem, whichever comes first.
If you are concerned about your child’s teeth, contact McGill Orthodontics to schedule a free orthodontic consultation. Call our office most convenient to you or request your appointment online today.