How can I tell if my child needs braces?

Children’s teeth develop at different rates and, as parents, we do our best keeping teeth clean and instilling good dental hygiene habits in our little ones. And we reply on our dentist’s expertise at each six-monthly check up to tell us that all is well, or whether any treatment is needed. 

But is there any way to tell whether you child might need braces in the future? And is there anything you can do in the meantime to help? 

As your child’s baby teeth grow and adult teeth start to appear, you might notice crookedness and irregularities. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that something’s wrong. Often, teeth work themselves out in their own time as your child’s jaw grows. But some things can be pre-empted – let’s take a look.  

• You or your partner had an overbite or crowding

Some types of overbite are hereditary, so if you had problems with ‘goofy’ teeth as a child, chances are your offspring might, too. But don’t worry, there’s lots of things your dentist or orthodontist can do to correct it. 

• Your child sucks her thumb 

While thumb sucking doesn’t always cause problems with teeth, it often does. Sucking your thumb from babyhood can cause the upper jaw to grow unevenly, causing protruded teeth. Getting your child to stop this habit is hard, but a reward system might be an incentive. 

• Baby bottle or dummy useage

Prolonged bottle feeding can have the same result as thumb sucking, as can over-using a pacifier or dummy. Keep an eye on how your child’s teeth are developing, and try to encourage drinking from an open cup as soon as you can – and let the dummy fairy take care of that dummy!  

Your child’s baby teeth came out early

Losing baby teeth too early – or losing teeth in the ‘wrong’ order – is not that common, but can happen. This can cause crowding, as the space the baby tooth was preserving is lost. If you child loses a baby tooth before the age of four, you should consult your dentist. 

• Your child has crooked teeth

Crooked teeth can occur when permanent teeth grow in around baby teeth that haven’t yet fallen out. Or they could be caused by a jaw that’s not yet large enough to accommodate adult teeth. 

If you have any concerns at all, speak to your dentist or orthodontist, who will be able to give you the best advice. A brace or Invisalign can correct all manner of teeth and jaw problems, and after a few months, your child’s brand new smile will be something to be very proud of!

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