The Coppe + Sears team, along with the American Association of Orthodontists, recommends that a child has their first orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven. Most children this age have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, and their mouths are continuing to develop. By having an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Chad Sears examine your child, potential issues can often be caught in the early stages allowing effective treatment before these issues become problematic. Early detection can help prevent any negative impact on your child’s future permanent teeth and the developing jaws.
Being able to diagnose and treat issues before they can develop into serious problems makes a positive difference to children’s overall oral health as they grow. Not only can orthodontic treatment properly align teeth, but it can also shape your child’s face and jaws, and even has the potential to boost self-esteem. During your child’s initial orthodontic exam, Dr. Sears will look for issues such as:
Early/Late tooth loss and eruption
The transition of baby teeth to permanent teeth is an important one. As primary teeth are placeholders for the permanent dentition, Dr. Sears will take note of where they are located and when they come out, since baby teeth will normally exfoliate in a fairly predictable order. If there is any significant deviation from this pattern, it may mean there are developmental issues in need of attention.
Crowding and spacing
One of the most common orthodontic problems for children is crowding of the teeth, and we can tell early on in your child’s life if he or she already has or will have issues with this. Spacing problems can show up when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or with teeth that are undersized or spaced apart.
Crooked teeth are more susceptible to damage and wear, and leaving them untreated for years can affect the shape and position of the surrounding gum tissue.
Protrusive front teeth
Front teeth protrusion is characterized by the upper teeth extending too far forward, or the lower teeth not extending far enough forward. Aside from the esthetic issues that can accompany protrusive teeth, other concerns include speech or chewing difficulties and a higher likelihood of dental trauma to these teeth.
Underbites can be caused by either tooth angulation issues or jaw growth problems. In the most difficult cases, the lower jaw grows too far forward. Many patients who are treated for an underbite at an early age are much less likely to need jaw surgery when they get older.
Anterior open bites and deep bites
These are essentially vertical problems with the bite. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Sears will typically be able to spot them by the time your child is around seven years old or earlier. In bites that are too deep (overbite), the top teeth completely cover the bottom ones when biting, and this can indicate a small lower jaw. Bites that do not overlap enough (openbites) may be a sign that there is a finger, thumb, or tongue habit causing dental problems.
Orthodontics is both an art and a science that combines a detailed treatment plan with the foresight to know how that treatment plan will make the child’s face look in the end. Early evaluations are an important part of this process, and it is equally important to choose an orthodontist who is highly trained, experienced, and up to date on the latest techniques and trends in orthodontics. Dr. Sears provides patients of the Coppe + Sears practice with expanded orthodontic services including:
- clear and traditional metal braces
- Invisalign (as a Premier Preferred Invisalign Provider)
- jaw growth modification
- orthodontics for severe bite problems
- treatment for parents too!
Current patients in our pediatric practice have their orthodontic situation monitored from their very first visit, and we will let them know when the time is right to treatment any presenting issues. For patients wanting to seek orthodontic consultations, scheduling one for your child around the age of 7 will give Dr. Sears the chance to spot any early orthodontic issues and prevent them from becoming more difficult problems.