How to Tell If Your Kid Needs Braces

2 smiling teenage girls, one with braces, wear beanies and striped blankets on a snowy day
Getting braces isn’t just about what a straighter smile will do for a patient’s appearance. Since misalignment can hinder the functioning of the teeth and jaws, a straight smile corrects problems beyond aesthetics. Braces help ensure that kids can: clean every surface of their teeth; properly speak and eat; and smile without embarrassment. But how do you know if your child needs braces?

What Are Some Orthodontic Problems?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an early check-up with an orthodontist at the first sign of orthodontic problems, such as the following:

  • Early, late, or irregular loss of baby teeth
  • Underbite – This is when the lower jaw continues past the upper jaw, forcing the bottom teeth to sit in front of the upper teeth.
  • Overbite – Also called a deep bite, an overbite is when the upper teeth cover more than a third of the lower incisors when the bite is closed. This can cause excessive wear on the lower teeth and, in some cases, cause the lower teeth to hit the roof of the mouth.
  • Overjet – Commonly known as “buck teeth”, an overjet is when the upper teeth protrude over the lower teeth. It can be caused by genetics, tongue-thrusting, thumb-sucking, and prolonged use of a pacifier or bottle.
  • Crowding – If there is not enough space for teeth to erupt, the overcrowding can push teeth into misalignment.
  • Spacing – Small teeth, missing teeth, or a wide dental arch can lead to too much space between the teeth.
  • Crossbite – When one or more of the upper teeth sit behind the lower teeth (often on one or both sides of the mouth), this can lead to problems with jaw growth and overall function.

What About Slightly Crooked Teeth?

Because Mother Nature does not follow our picture-perfect expectations, many smiles are mostly straight and only slightly crooked. Fixing crooked teeth is the best course of action if those crooked teeth will lead to advanced dental issues and complications down the road. But in general, slightly crooked teeth don’t necessarily need to be corrected, except in the following circumstances:

  • Crooked teeth may require orthodontic correction if they cause dental pain or discomfort
  • If crooked teeth lead to any difficulty chewing, speaking, or flossing, braces are highly recommended to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease

How Do I Know If My Child Needs Braces?

If you find that your child is presenting with any of the above signs, schedule a consultation with our board-certified orthodontist, Dr. Fulk. But keep in mind that just because your child comes to see Dr. Fulk for an orthodontic check-up, they may not require braces. And in situations where braces are recommended, remember that correction of orthodontic problems can often be an integral part of preventing the development of other very serious issues down the line. For many people, braces are the only way to achieve a truly healthy smile, so although braces can be intimidating at first, the results are very much worth it.

Schedule a Consultation!

If your child is already a patient at Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Hole, Dr. Ayala, and Dr. Handa will be among the first to notice any red flags that your child might need braces. Contact us today to schedule a checkup or a consultation for your child. We can determine whether your child needs braces and, if they do, the best time to embark on their orthodontic journey!

To ask our team any questions about braces, contact our office today.

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