Finding out whether your child needs corrective dental work or not can put your mind at rest. Here, we answer some orthodontic questions we often get asked by parents.
Is there anything parents of young children can do to prevent or minimise the amount of orthodontics that their kids may need?
Not really. Your mum and dad give you the teeth you’re going to have. A child’s genetic makeup – whether their teeth size relate to the size of their jaws – will determine whether they need orthodontic work.
However, it’s important for kids’ teeth to keep healthy, as orthodontics can be more complicated if they lose their baby teeth early because of decay.Baby teeth play a huge role because if a child loses them early, there’s a big chance there’s going to be an orthodontic problem. They act as guidance for adult teeth and provide a space-maintaining mechanism for them to come through in the right place. When that’s disrupted or modified by dental disease (that may or may not be preventable), this impacts on the need for orthodontics.
If a child loses their baby teeth too early, will they need orthodontics?
Most of the time, baby teeth are lost when they’re ready to go and the permanent teeth are just underneath.
If a baby tooth has to be removed, we make a little device called a space maintainer to hold the space of the tooth as if it was there. This tends to be for the molars, as if a molar tooth comes through and gets stuck or impacted, it can cause a drama.
We call this interceptive orthodontics – reducing the potential problems before they actually happen.
What’s the most common reason that children need orthodontic treatment?
The biggest cause for orthodontic treatment is jaw size discrepancy, which is a genetically predetermined skeletal issue.
Most people have a normal jaw ratio, meaning their top and bottom jaws are the same size. Other people have an upper jaw that’s much bigger than the lower jaw, or vice versa, so the jaws aren’t relative to each other and that can cause a discrepancy in the way their teeth align. Orthodontics help to modify the jaw/tooth size ratio and shift them into better alignment.
How early can you tell if a child needs braces?
You have to wait until the permanent teeth are erupting. It’s a dynamic situation – a child’s mouth and teeth are growing, so you don’t really know where the ‘in’ points of the teeth are going to be.
You also have to factor in facial growth – children who grow with long faces (vertical) tend to have bigger orthodontic problems than those whose faces grow more horizontally. We try to pick the right time to intervene.
What percentage of thumb suckers will need orthodontic work?
Not all of them, provided they stop the habit before the age of six or seven – the earlier, the better.
What age can you usually tell whether orthodontic treatment is needed?
Some kids’ teeth look fine until they hit puberty. Then when their growth accelerates, some problems can come to life – this is the time to do orthodontics.
You can’t really predict if a child will need orthodontics, the same way you can’t tell whether a baby will be short or tall. Although genetics definitely play a part, there are lots of kids whose mum and dad have teeth that are perfectly fine, while the kid’s look weird.
What’s the age range of orthodontics patients you see?
Sometimes we might do interceptive orthodontics on a child who’s seven or eight, then we also have patients who are 65 years old – there’s no age limit.
The question is: when is the best time that this particular person will be in treatment for the least amount of time? The big problem with kids is that you can’t start treating them at a really early age, but you can’t finish orthodontics until they’re in puberty, after their growth potential as a teenager.
How are orthodontic braces different from invisible aligners, such as Invisalign and ClearCorrect?
Invisible ‘fast’ braces are purely cosmetic alternatives that can achieve results in six months. While removable aligners such as Invisalign or ClearCorrect are a form of orthodontics and can straighten crooked teeth, unlike specialist orthodontic braces they’re not really capable of moving the teeth in a three-dimensional way – tipping or twisting them into position.
The reason that orthodontic braces take longer is because time is needed for the teeth to become stable in their adjusted position, and not move back to where they were. Orthodontic braces are also needed when the teeth can’t be straightened without making some room in the mouth – this might mean tooth extraction.
My 10-year-old son has a gap between his teeth. Could his wisdom teeth push the teeth forward and correct it?
Can normal growth correct orthodontic problems? It’s a pretty controversial argument – whether wisdom teeth play a role in correcting the spacing of teeth or make them crowded. People with wisdom teeth still have the same problems as those without.
Do I need a referral to ask about orthodontics?
No, we can talk to you about whether we can provide orthodontic services for your child’s situation. However, if it’s more complex, we’ll refer you to a registered specialist orthodontist. If you’d like to talk to a dentist about orthodontic options for your child, call now for an appointment on 07 3263 2677 or book an appointment online.