Early Orthodontic Care
It’s never too early to keep an eye on your child’s oral development. Your pediatric dentist can identify malocclusion (crowded teeth, crooked teeth or bite problems) and actively intervene to guide the teeth as they emerge in the mouth. Some patients need orthodontic treatment early in order to prevent more extensive treatment later.
Crowded Teeth (Malocclusion)
Malocclusion is often inherited. Orthodontic problems are also caused by dental injuries, loss of primary teeth too early or habits such as thumb or finger sucking, fingernail biting, or lip sucking or biting. Your pediatric dentist can help your child avoid oral habits that may create orthodontic problems.
Importance of Early Orthodontic Care
Early orthodontics can enhance your child’s smile, but the benefits far surpass appearance. Pediatric orthodontics can straighten crooked teeth, guide erupting teeth into position, correct bite problems, and even prevent the need for permanent tooth extractions in cases of overcrowding. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and less susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
Different orthodontic appliances work in different ways to benefit your child’s dental health. Some are fixed while others are removable. Your pediatric dentist will explain which appliance is best for your child, what the treatment can do, and how long it will take.
As with any dental treatment, the more a child cooperates, the better the results. First, careful brushing and flossing keep the appliance and your child’s health in top shape. (Removable appliances should be brushed each time the teeth are brushed.) Second, regular dental check-ups — besides orthodontic appointments — protect your child from tooth decay and gum disease. Third, prompt contact with your pediatric dentist when an appliance breaks will keep orthodontic treatment on-time and on-track.
Care and Normal Activity
Your child can eat a normal diet except sticky foods (gum, caramels) and large, hard foods (peanuts, ice chips, popcorn). Some appliances alter speech, but
most children adapt quickly and speak clearly within a day or two. Generally, children can safely run, jump, swim, and play with an orthodontic appliance.
Check with your pediatric dentist for specific advice on your child’s activities.