Does your child have crooked or crowded adult teeth coming in? If so, you may be tempted to 'wait and see' what their smile will be like over time, but is this the best approach? While historically some dentists and orthodontists chose to wait it out, it is not the best approach. Early intervention is critical - but not just for achieving straight teeth. Treating children for orthodontic issues at a young age can help prevent painful conditions such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), airway issues and sleep disorders.

If you feel like it may be too early to even talk about orthodontic evaluations, remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Crooked and crowded teeth can cause cavities and other oral health problems.

When Is the Best Time for Evaluation?

Most dentists and orthodontists recommend that children get evaluated for orthodontic treatment as young as 7 years old. Why is 7 the magic number? At 7, the bones of the roof of the mouth are not completely fused yet - that happens at age 9 - which makes treatment easier. It also lowers the risk of developing painful TMD, a condition that affects the temporomandibular joints. TMD develops from a misaligned bite putting strain on the jaw and surrounding muscles.

Individuals living with TMD often experience:

  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing the jaw
  • Jaw pain
  • Stiffness
  • Pain and ringing in the ears
  • Muscle aches in the back, neck and face
  • Headaches

Another reason to talk about TMD and an orthodontic evaluation at an early age is that families can have a genetic predisposition to the condition. So, if you have the condition or another person in the family has it, your child may eventually develop TMD, too.

Getting treatment now may affect how your child's adult teeth grow in and if they will need more room to accommodate teeth. Other issues that can be identified with an evaluation include sleep disorders and breathing problems.

One thing to keep in mind when considering scheduling an early orthodontic evaluation is that it is easier to model jaw growth in children versus remodeling it in an adult.

Get a head start on your child's orthodontic treatment and help to protect their oral health by calling Legends Dental at (254) 799-9540 for a consultation today.