Look around and you’ll likely notice that braces are common in children these days. There are a variety of reasons that parents choose to go ahead and start orthodontic treatment for their children, which can help eliminate teeth and jaw problems for the rest of their lives.
Reasons for treatment
In addition to the obvious desire to improve appearance, there are other reasons for orthodontic treatment. Crooked teeth can make oral hygiene tasks difficult, so correcting problems can lead to better oral health. Jaw and teeth issues can be disfiguring, as well as possibly affect eating and speaking. An improper bite can wear down otherwise healthy teeth. Some untreated problems can damage the underlying bone structure, and some orthodontic issues can also cause pain.
Indications of problems
There are various signs to watch for that may indicate orthodontic problems in children. These include breathing with the mouth open, early tooth decay, or losing baby teeth either too early or abnormally late. Difficulties biting and chewing may mean orthodontic issues as well. The teeth and jaws might be noticeably out of proportion. Also, children who suck their thumbs, fingers, or lips often end up needing orthodontic treatment.
Uncorrected orthodontic issues can become worse over time, and end up more difficult and expensive to treat. It is easiest to influence teeth and jaws when growth is still taking place. Parents should take children for an orthodontic consultation when problems are observed, as treatment can begin as early as 7 years old.
Length of treatment
Orthodontic treatment usually take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years depending on the type and severity of problems. An experienced orthodontist should be able to predict treatment time based on thorough examination, including X-rays and other tests as necessary. A treatment plan may involve tooth extraction, temporary appliances, permanent appliances, or other services.