It’s always exciting when your children lose their first teeth. And when the tooth fairy comes and takes those cute baby teeth away, you are left with a new toothless grin to look at every day—and the big old adult teeth, rearing their ugly heads. As these adult teeth start pushing their way into your child’s mouth and shifting things around, you may start to wonder—When should I think about braces? You personally may have gotten braces in your teens, so you’ve still got time, right? At Dr. Rondeau and Associates, we’ve gathered the orthodontic myths our patients are most often surprised about when it comes to kids, their jaws, and making room for their permanent teeth.
Orthodontic Myths #1: It’s too early to think about orthodontics.
Many people think you need to wait for all adult teeth to be present, and then orthodontics can correct problems. However, the best time to fix a problem is before it starts. We recommend an exam to assess current and future orthodontic needs as early as age 5, before permanent teeth are in place. Initial records and X-rays will let us know if your child has any discrepancies in the development of the upper and lower jaw. If necessary, we can regulate the width of the upper and lower arches (jaws) and gain space for the permanent teeth before they come. This early treatment can even solve or prevent problems before they begin, saving your child from more costly and complicated treatment in the future.
Orthodontic Myths #2: Braces is the first step in orthodontics.
You might think that the way to straighten teeth is braces. But you can help permanent teeth to have room to come in straight by taking another step first. Your child’s face is developed fully by the age of 12, when most permanent teeth are also in place. Between the ages of 5 and 12, your child’s jaw is growing. If your child has a narrow arch, the permanent teeth will be crowded as they grow in. As a first step, we can use a “functional appliance,” which is a tool to help expand the arch, giving room for the permanent teeth. This step usually takes 10-12 months, and can make braces unnecessary or shorten the amount of time braces are needed.
Orthodontic Myths #3: Even though I don’t want it, when my child needs braces, some permanent teeth may have to come out.
You might be afraid to put your child through painful teeth pulling. But sometimes it’s the only way to make room for the other teeth, right? Not so! If you bring your child in as the jaw is developing, you may eliminate the need for permanent teeth to be pulled later. A functional appliance can make room so there is plenty of space for all permanent teeth. Functional appliances can also be used in teens and adults to expand the arches and make room for the teeth to help avoid extractions.
Orthodontic Myths #4: My child’s snoring, abnormal swallowing, or speech problem is not related to the teeth or jaw.
If your child snores, has trouble swallowing, or has a speech problem, you may have gone through tonsillectomies, adenoid removal, or speech and other therapies and the problem may persist. You may not think to consult a dentist—however, any of these problems could be related to the dental arch. Bring your child in for a consultation and learn more about how a functional appliance could help your child to breath, swallow, or speak better. (It’s even possible your child’s headaches or earaches are related to problems with their bite!)
Orthodontic Myths #5: I need to wait until my child’s dentist recommends it to evaluate a need for orthodontics.
You may think your dentist would tell you if you should seek an orthodontic evaluation, but a dentist only sees your child infrequently, you are your child’s best advocate. If you notice a strange bite or any signs of bite problems or even just crowding of permanent teeth as they grow in, consider coming in for a free evaluation. Or if your child has symptoms like snoring, abnormal swallowing, speech problems, thumb sucking, headaches, or earaches that can’t be explained, we are happy to take a look to see if a functional appliance could correct the problem.
We understand that the idea of early orthodontics may be new to you. Your questions are always welcome and encouraged, and a free evaluation can offer you a diagnosis, an easier path to later orthodontic treatment, and peace of mind!