Many parents ask how they can tell if their child will need orthodontic treatment here at Humphrey Orthodontics. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question, since many factors must be considered and every child is different. These include the child’s age, how their teeth and jaws are aligned, how their teeth and jaws are developing, and the desired results. Recognizing and treating your child’s orthodontic issues is what our team is here to do!
The best way to address all of these items is an early orthodontic evaluation. The American Association of Orthodontists and Dr. Humphrey recommend every child see an orthodontist around age seven. Most children will have enough dental landmarks in place at this age that their teeth, jaw, and bite can be assessed for orthodontic treatment.
There are several common issues that Dr. Humphrey will be looking for during this initial evaluation, regardless of your child’s age. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things we see most often in our Wentzville and St. Peters patients!
Healthy teeth and gums are essential to your child’s oral health, but crowded teeth can make it challenging to brush and floss effectively. This increases the chance of tooth decay and cavities. If your child has crowded teeth, we can move them into a better position in small increments over time. This will result in a smile that’s easier to clean. Treatment can even relieve chewing and speech difficulties!
Gaps in teeth are very common, especially in children. They can happen for a variety of reasons, from genetics to bad oral habits like thumb sucking or extended pacifier use. If your child has a bit too much space between their teeth, Dr. Humphrey will identify the underlying cause and create a personalized treatment plan to close the gaps. This will improve the overall appearance of your child’s smile – and their oral health, too!
Open bite / Habit
With an open bite, the upper and lower rows of the front teeth don’t touch or close when smiling or chewing. Many open bites are the result of extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth to grow into a noticeably rounded formation. Fortunately, most thumb habits are easy to break with a gentle, non-pokey appliance. The sooner your child stops the habit, the more the teeth will revert to where they were supposed to be.
If your child has a deep overbite, the upper front teeth will overlap the lower front teeth too much. A deep overbite is very detrimental to the teeth and potentially the health of the jaw joints. The lower front teeth can be significantly and prematurely worn down from this positioning. It can also have an impact on face shape and appearance by aging the face with collapsed lips which can make the chin and nose more prominent. Correcting a deep bite misalignment like this will greatly improve the functionality of your child’s teeth and dramatically improve the appearance of their smile!
An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth (a front-to-back problem). There are several treatment options available for patients with underbites at Humphrey Orthodontics. These include:
- A reverse-pull face mask to pull the jaw forward: this orthopedic type treatment must be done early before age 10 to be effective.
- Traditional braces with rubber bands to adjust the misaligned teeth. An additional spring appliance may be used if rubber bands aren’t enough.
- Jaw surgery: this is used to correct the most severe underbite cases
These treatments will make it easier to smile, eat, and even breathe more effectively.
If a child has an overjet that is too large, their top front teeth will protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. This is commonly referred to as “buck teeth.” Teeth that stick out too far are much more likely to have trauma occur to them (a fall, a ball to the face, etc.). The child’s age and specific needs will determine what treatment approach we take, but options will usually include:
- bite correction devices
- traditional braces
- removable orthodontic appliances
- tooth removal
Once Dr. Humphrey helps you choose the correct treatment for your child’s overjet, they’ll be left with a beautifully balanced smile after it’s completed.
Gaps can exist because of congenitally missing teeth or tooth loss due to injury or disease. In some cases, we can close the space left by the missing tooth. Other times, our skilled team will properly position the adjacent teeth and the overall bite to ensure the success of a future dental implant (implant done by an oral surgeon, not the orthodontist).
Get a headstart on your child’s smile at Humphrey Orthodontics
At Humphrey Orthodontics, we’re committed to providing personalized care for every child we treat! During your child’s evaluation, Dr. Humphrey will create a customized treatment plan based on their unique needs and the desired results. Our goal is to give every patient a rewarding and stress-free experience, from their first appointment to the last! Recognizing and treating your child’s orthodontic issues is the first step towards a lifetime of healthy smiles.
If you’ve been wondering if your child would benefit from orthodontic care, our Humphrey Orthodontics team would love to meet you both and take a look at how their smile is developing! If you’re near Wentzville or St. Peters, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Humphrey. Whatever your child needs, we’ll give them the best start towards a lifetime of confident smiles.