Pediatric Orthodontics What is It and Why You Should Care?

Pediatric Orthodontics: What is It and Why You Should Care?

Pediatric orthodontics is a form of dentistry specializing in the treatment of children. Pediatric orthodontics is one of the most diverse and rewarding specialties in dentistry. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

A pediatric dentist should be seen every six months after age two or three. This allows us to monitor your child’s growth and development and recognize any potential problems before they become significant. Regular visits allow your child to become familiar with the dental office environment, staff, and procedures. This familiarity will help alleviate any child’s fears about visiting the dentist.

When to Visit a Pediatric Orthodontics

If your child has a severe overbite, open bite, or crossbite, the teeth are crowded, or the jaw is too small to hold all of their teeth, you need to see an orthodontist. In most cases, the first visit should occur around age 7, although if your child has problems with their teeth, you may want to consider an earlier visit. That is because an early visit will help determine if treatment is needed and how much it may cost. The earlier the treatment is started, the better. It may be necessary when they are younger than seven due to problems with their teeth or jaw.

If your child is between 8 and 10 years old and has not yet seen an orthodontist, it’s a good idea to make an appointment for a checkup. This will help the orthodontist determine if any problems may need treatment at this time or in the near future.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should have their first checkup by age 7. By then, most kids have both adult and baby teeth. At this stage, an orthodontist can identify the problem and correct all jaw and tooth-related problems without necessarily performing surgery.

What Does Orthodontics Treat?

Orthodontics can be used to treat a variety of problems, including:

Overbites:

Overbites are one of the most common orthodontic problems that orthodontics treat. If you have an overbite, it means that your upper teeth overlap your lower teeth. This can result from genetics, oral habits such as thumb sucking, or other factors.

Overbites can lead to damage to the front teeth and difficulty chewing properly. It is also one of the leading causes of TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder). Treatment for an overbite usually involves braces with elastics or a special device called a palate expander.

Underbites:

An underbite happens when the lower jaw protrudes forward, and the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth when the mouth is closed. It can occur when there is too much growth in your child’s lower jaw or too little growth in their upper jaw. Underbites can also happen if your child has lost baby teeth too early. Keep in mind that it can cause speech problems and make it difficult to chew properly. It may also cause premature wear on the front teeth and an abnormal appearance. If left untreated, an underbite may increase the chance of TMJ disorder occurring later in life.

Crooked teeth:

Pediatric orthodontics is a specialty dentistry discipline that focuses on the alignment of the teeth and jaws to improve a person’s smile and oral health. Crooked teeth don’t fit together perfectly. Hence they are hard to clean. As a result, they are likely to be lost early because of periodontal disease and tooth decay. These factors strain the chewing muscles, leading to back pain, neck and shoulder pain, TMJ syndrome, and headaches. Crooked teeth also affect one’s facial appearance. But all that can be corrected through orthodontic treatment. Other benefits of the kind of treatment include a healthier mouth, improved appearance, and well-aligned teeth that can last for years.

Misaligned teeth:

The practice of orthodontics seeks to correct teeth alignment. While this may seem like a superficial concern on the surface, teeth that are not properly aligned can cause several health concerns. For example, misaligned teeth can make it difficult to chew food properly and to speak clearly. They can also lead to jaw pain and headaches. Finally, a misaligned bite can put excessive pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is the hinge that joins the lower and upper jaw together.

Children typically have all their adult teeth by age 13. At this point, an Orthodontist may recommend braces or other orthodontic devices in order to straighten teeth and correct bite problems. Braces work by applying steady pressure to the teeth over time in order to move them into their proper position.

In addition to traditional metal braces, there are more subtle options available as well. Clear ceramic braces that are made to match the color of your teeth are available in most cases and are much less noticeable than traditional braces. In some cases, you may even be able to use removable plastic aligners that gradually move your teeth into proper alignment without having any metal on your teeth at all.

Overjet:

Overjet describes when your upper front teeth stick out over your lower front teeth. The normal overjet is two to three millimeters, and anything greater than that would be considered an overjet problem. This can make it difficult to bite and chew normally and make talking more difficult. It may also lead to chipped or broken teeth.

Open bite:

An open bite is an abnormal bite where the upper front teeth do not overlap the lower front teeth. Open bites may be caused by excessive thumb sucking or tongue thrusting habits. Other causes may include premature loss of baby teeth, early loss of adult teeth, or delayed development of the jaws. Not all open bites need correction. A small open bite in the front is considered normal if it does not affect speech or cause other problems. A large open bite that interferes with function needs to be corrected by an orthodontist.

Key Takeaway

Orthodontic treatment aims to aid in and improve the health of your teeth and jaws. A wide range of orthodontic treatments and procedures exist, but the primary aim is always a preventative one, aiming to avoid more serious dental issues down the road. Orthodontics is used mainly in young children and adults with fully formed jaws and is not usually performed on infants or toddlers.

John Norwood
John Norwood is best known as a technology journalist, currently at Ziddu where he focuses on tech startups, companies, and products.