When children are 6-7 years old the dentist should recommend a routine visit to the orthodontist, just to check that all their teeth are coming out properly and both jaws “bite” properly. The orthodontist then asks the children to visit him once or twice a year just to confirm that everything is going well. It is well known that prevention is better than cure.
Orthodontic problems are due to hereditary and environmental factors. The size of teeth and jaws are characteristics inherited from parents to children. But children’s habits, ranging from finger sucking to biting foreign objects or nails, may cause teeth“migration” and disturb the harmonious relationship of the jaws, with a direct impact on the health and aesthetics of the face. Even the premature loss of baby teeth from caries can cause problems, due the loss of space that baby teeth have to maintain until the eruption of permanent teeth.
The orthodontist will help treat bad habits (finger sucking, long-term use of a pacifier, gnashing of teeth or biting pencils) or treatment of abnormalities, such as crowding of teeth or very long gaps between teeth. Also, if necessary, he will promptly refer the patient to doctors of other specialties such as:
- a pediatric dentist for fillings or the early removal of a new tooth,
- an ENT doctor in case of mouth breathing or hypertrophic tonsils,
- a speech therapist when there is also a speech disorder.
In cases where there is an orthodontic-skeletal problem in the teeth, it is best for the child to start an orthodontic treatment with a removable or fixed appliance. The orthodontist then explains the reasons for proposing an early treatment instead of a later treatment with braces. The reasons are the following:
- Permanent tooth extractions are more likely to be needed later.
- The time the child will need to wear braces may be longer.
- The treatment can be more tedious for the child.
- Unlike adolescents, younger children accept orthodontic treatment more willingly as they are not ashamed and have no inhibitions.
- If children start treatment early, it will be over by the time they reach adolescence and as adolescents they will have increased self-confidence and better school performance, due to a better oral and facial appearance in general.
It might of course be the case that after the completion of an early treatment, the subsequent treatment with braces is completely avoided because the teeth rise in their right positions.
It is therefore very important that the treatment is done at the right time, neither too late, nor too early, before the age of 7, as in this case it lasts for years and becomes unnecessarily tiring for everyone, especially for the child.
Children can eat most foods during orthodontic treatment. Chewing gum and candies should be avoided on the whole. As for hard foods, a little more attention is needed. Any food should be cut into small pieces and chewed with the back teeth.
In order for an orthodontic treatment to be successful, it requires a specialist orthodontist and a consistent patient. The patient should be consistent in keeping their appointments, following the orthodontist’s instructions to the letter and taking care of their oral hygiene.