How do I know if my child needs braces?


Q. How do I know if my child needs braces?  Should we see the orthodontist?

A. The key word in this question is ‘need’.

Most of us are not lucky enough to be born with teeth in perfect alignment and ideal arch form. If perfectly straight teeth without overlap is the goal, the vast majority of people will require some amount of orthodontic treatment to achieve this.  There are, however, people with bites that are not perfectly ‘straight’ but are, nonetheless, still stable.  Misaligned teeth may require more effort to keep clean but if the existing tooth alignment will allow for healthy joint function, evenly dispersed bite pressure and prevent excessive wear of the teeth over time, orthodontics may be 0ptional – not necessary.

In order to fully evaluate your child’s orthodontic needs, X-ray’s and impressions for study models will need to be taken during an orthodontic consultation appointment.  This is usually performed by an orthodontist.  From these records, measurements are able to be taken and the current alignment can be fully evaluated in order to assess the need for orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontic treatment is often divided into phases.  If problems are detected early, solutions are often easier and less costly than waiting until later phases after skeletal and dental maturity is achieved. Early problems to watch for are cross bites, extreme crowding, open bites, a strong tongue thrust, habits like thumb sucking, or adult teeth erupting around baby teeth.

Your family dentist or pediatric dentist should be able to help you monitor your child’s dental development and bring any concerns to your attention.

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