While braces were once considered a rite of passage for young teens around age 12 or 13, now pediatric dentists are recommending this kind of corrective equipment for kids as young as seven. Corrective orthodontic surgeries are advised for even younger patients when the dentist detects early signs of severe bite pattern and crowding problems that would otherwise continue to worsen as the child grows. Don't be surprised if your dentist recommends orthodontics for your six year old since early treatment offers these five benefits.
Baby teeth are not quite as firmly rooted in the jaw as the permanent teeth that follow them. It takes a lot less force and time to adjust a crooked bicuspid that is still in its first stage of growth. By adjusting the out of place teeth while the root is easier to manipulate, the child experiences less pain and gets the braces off sooner. The root pocket changes into a better shape to keep the permanent teeth growing in straight and in the right place from the very beginning.
When it's the shape and size of the jaw itself causing dental problems, early surgeries and braces have a bigger effect because the dentist can make adjustments while the jaw is still growing. It takes a lot less work to widen a jaw just starting to develop too narrowly than to completely reset the bones of an adult's face because there are two or three inches of width missing.
Gaps are a natural part of a child's smile as they lose and replace teeth, but a lack of gaps is actually a bad thing when permanent teeth are trying to push in. Some kids only develop crowding after they start losing teeth because the remaining baby teeth suddenly migrate to fill in the temporary gap. Wearing a set of braces can keep the gaps open until the new adult teeth erupt and fill in the space. The first adult teeth can come in as young as seven, so waiting until 13 to get braces means your child misses out on a lot of opportunities for gap management.
In severe cases of dental crowding or crooked bite patterns, it's likely that your child will need years of orthodontic treatment into early adulthood and may wear a retainer for many more decades after that point. Get your child used to the routine of extra dental responsibilities early to avoid struggles with challenges like
- Using flexible picks and other unusual tooth brushes to clean thoroughly around the brackets and wires
- Developing sores in the mouth due to rubbing from the parts of the braces
- Feeling sore after a visit to tighten the brackets or ratchet up the jaw expander
Fewer Bad Habits
Is your eight year old having a hard time letting go of their thumb sucking habit? The pressure of sucking on the thumb can bend the jaw and distort the whole mouth, leading to painful overcrowding and skewing the bite so that teeth crack during chewing. Wearing equipment like braces and sub-lingual expanders can make thumb sucking so uncomfortable your child finally breaks their bad habit.
Improved Speech Impediments
Many parents mistakenly think that braces are primarily for improving the look of a child's smile. However, early problems with crooked teeth and misshapen jaw structures often cause children to develop speech impediments as they grow up. This can be caused by the teeth blocking the movements of the tongue, the jaw keeping the lips from meeting normally, or the child trying to compensate for a narrow jaw. Early braces could completely reverse your child's developing speech impediment, but only a dentist can tell you how much of their unusual patterns are being caused by dental issues.