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Vincelli Orthodontics Calgary & Canmore

When should my child see an orthodontist?

As a parent, you may wonder if children benefit from early orthodontic care. Here, our orthodontists in Calgary & Canmore share signs that you should bring your child in for an orthodontic checkup.

Signs That Your Child Should See the Orthodontist

When we talk about orthodontics and braces, many of us immediately picture a teenager with a shiny new set of braces. But did you know that orthodontic treatment may be recommended at a much earlier age for some patients?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), as well as the Canadian Association of Orthodontics (CAO), both recommend an initial examination at around 7 years old. Even though a child will still have most primary (baby) teeth at this age, it is a good time to evaluate how the jaws are growing. If need be, the orthodontist may recommend different appliances to help the jaws grow better. This "Phase 1" treatment is mainly focused on the size and alignment of the jaws, as opposed to tooth alignment.

As a parent, certain signs indicate it might be time to bring your child to the orthodontist. Here are some of the things you should watch for:

Your Little One is Still Sucking Their Thumb

While thumb sucking is a natural way for babies and young children to soothe themselves, this should end by the time they are two to four years of age. If your child is still sucking their thumb at this age, it can cause constant pressure on your child’s upper front teeth and upper jaw, moving their teeth outward.

You Notice Signs of Tongue Thrust

Did you know that when your baby pushes food out of their mouth with their tongue, it lets you know that they have the reflex to prevent choking? Unfortunately, this same motion can become a habit that may cause orthodontic issues like protruding teeth.

Some of the signs of tongue thrusting are:

  • When your child is resting, sleeping, or swallowing, the tip of their tongue sticks out between the teeth. 
  • Your child breathes through their mouth at all times
  • They can’t completely close their lips
  • You notice slow, fast or messy eating
  • They are beginning to show signs of a lisp

Your Child is Losing Baby Teeth Early

Most kids begin to lose their baby teeth when they are between five and six years old. In some cases, tooth decay and trauma can cause their teeth to fall out early. Unfortunately, this can cause alignment issues since the primary teeth help guide the adult teeth into place. In some cases, it may also cause impacted teeth. This is because the remaining teeth can shift into the empty spaces that still have a tooth waiting to erupt.

They Have Difficulties Chewing

When kids are experiencing the beginnings of an overbite, underbite or crossbite, it might discourage them from eating certain foods, like crunchy carrots or pizza. Getting your child to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet can be tough, and these dental issues can make it even more difficult, leading to nutritional deficiencies.

Their Teeth Are Crooked or Uneven

Sometimes the issues are purely aesthetic. If a child experiences crooked or uneven teeth that affect their appearance but don't impact the function of their teeth, you may still consider having them undergo orthodontic treatment. Our orthodontists would be happy to schedule a consultation to discuss teeth straightening options for your little one.

Your Child's Adult Teeth Aren't Erupting in Order

While the exact order in which teeth erupt varies from child to child, there is a general order that they seem to follow. Usually, the first molars emerge in the back of the mouth sometime between the ages of five and seven. 

Around this time, children start losing their baby teeth and growing permanent teeth to replace them. The bottom front teeth are usually the first to fall out and are generally replaced by adult teeth when a child is between six and seven years old. Baby teeth will continue to be replaced by adult teeth until a child is around 11 to 13 years old. 

Once a child's primary teeth have been replaced, an additional four permanent molars erupt between the ages of 12 and 14. The last to appear are the wisdom teeth between ages of 17 and 30 (for those who get them), increasing your child's total number of teeth to 32. 

If your child's teeth seem to be emerging out of order, this may be an early indicator of issues that require an orthodontist's attention. 

They are Experiencing Jaw Pain

Misaligned teeth or jaws can cause stress on the joints, nerves and facial muscles, which can cause jaw pain and tenderness. This can result in your child avoiding eating and talking to prevent any potential discomfort.

Early Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic visits when your child is still young won't necessarily result in treatment, but they can help to address habits and prevent issues that can impact their oral health. Even if no action is needed, you’ll be left with peace of mind.

Is your child showing any of the symptoms of orthodontic issues that we discussed in this blog post? Contact our orthodontists in Calgary & Canmore today to request an appointment.

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We are accepting new patients in Calgary & Canmore. Contact us and take the first step in achieving a healthy bite.

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