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Are speech or eating habits being compromised by crooked or overlapping teeth?

It’s high time to explore early orthodontic treatment.

Have you experienced children complaining about mouth ulcers? Is there a change in the way an once bubbly and smiling child interacts with others? These could both be indications that a child is in need of early orthodontic treatment.

Importance of early orthodontic treatment

Early orthodontic treatment can improve a child’s smile, alleviate speech issues, and address chewing difficulties among other problems by correcting the alignment of teeth and jaws. Orthodontic problems usually surface during the transition between primary and permanent dentition. During this time it is easier to address these issues and mitigate the potential risk of complex case development in the future. Additionally, a child facing orthodontic problems can potentially struggle with self-esteem issues as peers might tease them about their looks causing emotional stress.

A study has found that more than half of children and adolescents in the world suffer from some type of malocclusion, but not all hope is lost. By identifying and seeking early orthodontic treatment, ~15% of developing dental problems can be fully corrected and 49% can be improved with a simple interceptive treatment1. In fact, the Australian Society of Orthodontics2 recommends children to be visit an orthodontist between the age of 8-10 years, as early intervention can prevent the need for some future treatments.

While dental practitioners play crucial roles in early identification of orthodontic problems, parents have a bigger role to play since they interact with their child daily and should be able to notice signs as detailed below:

3 common signs children may need early orthodontic treatment

  1. Difficulty chewing

Misaligned jaws can result in overbite or underbite resulting in chewing difficulties. Another tell-tale sign is consistent mouth ulcers from bites into soft tissue.

  • Thumb or finger sucking post five years

Thumb or finger-sucking might be harmless up to the age of four. Beyond this age, it poses problems such as dental-facial deformities and crooked teeth.

  • Mouth-Breathing

If a child snores at night or mouth-breathes even when healthy, the shape of their jaw and mouth may be preventing them from closing their mouth correctly.

Early orthodontic treatment considerations

What are possible early orthodontic treatments for children?

  1. Braces

While braces are an effective form of early orthodontic treatment, children must practice good dental habits such as regular flossing to keep braces clean. It may take time for them to get used to these practices but crucial to prevent the risk of poor oral health and possible tooth decay3.

  • Invisalign® clear aligners

A clear solution that works for active children who are self-conscious about their teeth is clear aligners. The treatment process involved with Invisalign clear aligners ensures that teeth are 3D scanned, allowing every set of aligners to fit more comfortably in a child’s mouth as they grow. With Invisalign First, a teeth-straightening system catered to little ones aged six to ten years, parents don’t need to be worried the aligners won’t fit as teeth grow, because the clear aligners accommodate changes in their teeth throughout treatment.

What’s more, Invisalign clear aligners are removable, meaning less disruption to a child’s lifestyle as they can continue oral hygiene and eat the foods they love without diet restrictions.  For children who lead active lifestyles, aligners are perfect with no metal wires to irritate their mouth as they move about which means less disruption to schedules for clinic visits that take up valuable time for life experiences.

Factors to consider when deciding on the right interceptive orthodontic treatment

Treatment success relies on patient compliance, it is important to choose a treatment that a child is willing and able to comply with. Age, cost, and severity should be considered but, above all, easy implementation and commitment are the key considerations because orthodontic treatments are an investment of time and money. It is a process that a child needs to commit to for best results.

Treatment plan should also consider a child’s emotional state and provide positive experiences so that their smiles can grow as they do. Align Technology has introduced the My Invisalign App that helps the child and parents track progress and conveniently helps sustain motivation throughout the treatment journey.

While parents want the best for their child, it is important to have an honest conversation to ensure everyone is on the same page before committing to orthodontic treatment. After all, it is a lifestyle change and commitment for the child and the last thing we want is to be emotionally stressed and unhappy if treatment is forced. Regardless of how their teeth or jaw might look, if a child is happy, their smile can light up any room.

1. https://e-kjo.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.4041/kjod22.229
2. https://www.aso.org.au/when-start-treatment
3. https://vittana.org/17-biggest-pros-and-cons-of-braces

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