Although it’s more traditional in the UK to start orthodontic treatment for children after all adult teeth are through, early diagnosis can allow some patients to benefit from having a simple treatment whilst they are still growing to help prepare their mouth for the bigger adult teeth.
If you want to see if your child is likely to need future brace treatment you don’t need to rush them for an assessment. It’s probably best to wait until they are at least 8 years old.
However, there are some earlier signs you can look out for that may indicate that braces are on the horizon. The most common ones are likely to be perfectly straight baby teeth with no gaps, or even crooked baby teeth. This is most likely going to indicate a lack of room for all the adult teeth and potential need for extractions. Losing baby teeth before their time due to decay or trauma may also mean a loss of space for the adult teeth.
The next is an overbite (prominent front teeth, especially with thumbsucking). Persistent thumbsucking beyond the age of 6 years may pull the bone of the jaw forwards as well as the teeth, so the best thing to do is get the child to stop in order to reduce the need for future treatment. Less common is an underbite (lower teeth in front of upper teeth) or missing baby teeth.
If you have any concerns, it is a good idea to raise these with your dentist who will decide when to send your child to be seen by an Orthodontist. Ideally these problems need to be assessed once they are 8 years of age or older, as treatment should be ready to start when the last baby teeth are being shed.
The early bird definitely catches the worm when it comes to orthodontics.