9 Signs Your Little One Should See an Orthodontist

Early years orthodontics is gentle, non-invasive and can prevent the need for train tracks and trickier treatments in their teens, says dentist Roksolana Mykhalus.

We all know the early years are crucial for your child’s development. Creating the right environment for little ones to explore, discover and play is proven to boost their learning ability, health and future economic prospects. The early years are also a crucial period for identifying potential problems and intervening before they become more serious – so this is the perfect time to take your child for an orthodontic assessment.

Unlike regular orthodontics, early orthodontics take advantage of the window of opportunity created during the early years up until the age of 8, when a child’s soft, growing jaw begins its process of permanent fusion. Before then, dentists can use gentle, non-invasive treatments to create or preserve space for the permanent teeth to erupt in right place – preventing the need for extractions, jaw surgery or lengthy brace treatments in future.

Not all children require orthodontics – but if you’ve noticed any of the following tell-tale indicators, take your child to see an orthodontist by the age of 7 at the latest:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all their permanent teeth around age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb/finger sucking after age 5
  • Speech problems
  • Teeth that don't come together in a normal manner or even at all
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbite)
  • Crowded front teeth around age 7 or 8

So what’s the next step? This is where parents may need to put in some legwork, as few family dentists in the UK offer early orthodontics. While there are lots of private orthodontists out there, only a paediatric dentist will have the additional training required to get very young children on board with the idea of treatment – making the experience fun and free of fear.

Roksolana Mykhalus is founder of Happy Kids Dental, a dentist just for children in central London.

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