As a parent, you are always trying to be on top of your child’s health. You take them to the doctor and follow all the advice that you’re given in order to keep them well. However, sometimes braces can be a bit of a mystery. Does your child actually need them? There are about 3.9 million children in the United States who are orthodontic patients, so braces are very common. While you should always consult with your dentist and orthodontist, there are some signs that show your child either needs braces now or will likely need them in the future. Here are a few things to look out for.
Misaligned Jaw or Teeth
If your child’s jaw or teeth seem to be misaligned, they likely need braces. The most common ways that the jaw is misaligned are through overbites and underbites. If you notice that your child has either of these, make sure you get them to the dentist for an evaluation. If they need braces and don’t get them early, they may have to deal with jaw pain and discomfort.
If your child is grinding their teeth, either asleep or awake, they could need braces. While teeth grinding might seem minor, it can be detrimental to your child’s health. Grinding is a sign of potential misalignment of the jaw, among other things. So, if you allow the grinding to continue, it could result in further misalignment, plus damaged, worn down teeth. Listen for signs of teeth grinding, especially at night when your child is sleeping. It might mean it’s time to visit the orthodontist.
When primary teeth fall out, the new teeth might come in somewhat crooked. If too many of the teeth are crooked, you might consider getting your child braces. This could be done for both health and aesthetic reasons. According to the American Dental Association, 70% of braces patients are female and the braces are largely for aesthetic reasons like straightening crooked teeth and improving the appearance of your child’s mouth. This will boost their self-esteem and confidence. While some people might think that getting your child braces for aesthetic reasons is useless, it can have a positive impact on them. Feeling confident can significantly improve their mental health while feeling ugly or inadequate can lead to anxiety and depression.
Crooked teeth should also be repaired for health reasons. When the teeth are crooked, it is harder to clean the spaces around them. This could make your child more prone to cavities and mouth pain. Straightening their teeth will eliminate some of those problems.
If your young child sucks their thumb or fingers long after their toddler years, this could be an early sign that they’ll need braces. Sucking on their thumb can lead to jaw misalignment in the future since the teeth and jaw are pulled forward. If you can get your child to stop doing these things, you might be able to avoid braces. The average length of time someone wears braces is two years, but by starting early, you could potentially avoid those two years.
Getting braces is a matter of caring for your child’s health. But it can be difficult to know when those braces are necessary. Talk to your child’s dentist and keep a close eye on their oral habits. Things like thumb sucking or teeth grinding are indicators that there might be something wrong. So can features like a prominent overbite or crooked teeth. If you’re unsure what your child needs, a dentist can help. They can examine your child, then refer them to an orthodontist for further treatment.