About 75% of patients receiving orthodontic care are children and adolescents. Many of these patients are treated for jaw misalignment, which can affect a child’s health and even lead to jaw surgery in serious cases.
Do you know how to spot misaligned teeth in your child or what to do if they have them?
In this article, we discuss how to spot some of the most common types of jaw misalignment. We also cover common treatments such as braces for children. Read on to improve your kid’s health and confidence.
Jaw Misalignment Types and Causes
The first step in treating jaw misalignment in children is learning how to identify it. This includes understanding the most common types and their causes. Keep in mind that the severity of the misalignment can vary.
An overbite occurs when a child’s upper jaw extends past their lower jaw. Overbites are one of the most common types of jaw misalignments and most instances can be easily repaired by your Louisville, KY orthodontist.
This condition can be caused by an undersized lower jaw from early tooth loss and/or the result of genetics. It can also be a result of habitual child behavior like thumb sucking or lip sucking, which can cause teeth to shift.
An underbite is the opposite of an overbite where the child’s bottom teeth extend past the upper teeth. Severe underbites can lead to dental issues such as the chipping or breaking of front teeth due to ongoing wear and tear.
A child that sucks their thumb or relies heavily on bottles or pacifiers is at the same risk of developing an underbite as an overbite. This can also result from injury, genetics, or other abnormalities like tumors.
Children with an open bite have a gap between their front upper and lower teeth when their mouth is closed. Their rear teeth connect before their front teeth do. This doesn’t necessarily mean their rear teeth are misaligned too.
Biting into food can be difficult for children with an open bite. In addition to the causes of an overbite and underbite, an open bite is caused by tongue thrusting, temporomandibular joint disorders, or other skeletal problems.
A crossbite is a different form of misaligned teeth that needs to be treated by your child’s Louisville, KY orthodontist sooner rather than later. With a crossbite, one or a few teeth don’t align or are tucked behind one another.
This may affect your child’s facial features and oral health. A crossbite can occur when baby teeth don’t fall out quickly enough and cause crowding. Undersized jaws, oversized teeth, or medical conditions are causes as well.
Crowded teeth are a common cause of jaw misalignment in children. However, this type of misalignment also considers how each tooth aligns with the teeth next to it or how the ‘face’ of the teeth aligns.
A tooth that’s angled out of place may not result in a full overbite or underbite, but it can cause issues. It makes brushing and flossing difficult, which leads to poor dental hygiene and the need for orthodontic care.
A gap between teeth can be due to a recently lost baby tooth, but not always. Gaps between teeth occur due to gum disease and recession from poor oral hygiene, an oversized jaw, or other genetic and behavioral factors.
Too much space between a child’s teeth means a higher risk of food particles getting stuck between them. It also leaves gums more vulnerable to bacteria. This means bad breath, cavities, and painful gums.
Treatment Options for Jaw Misalignment
Getting your child orthodontic care from their Louisville, KY orthodontist is essential in correcting a jaw misalignment. Once you suspect misaligned teeth, start by scheduling an appointment for a formal diagnosis.
Not all children need treatment and not all treatments are right for everyone. An official diagnosis is important for getting the issue corrected because it allows you to discuss the different treatment options.
Braces for Children
Getting braces for children is one of the most common ways of treating jaw misalignment. They use carefully structured pressure to shift the position of teeth over time. They can even gradually adjust jaw positions as well.
Braces for children require regular orthodontic care for adjustments to maintain the right pressure. Depending on the cause, they can help correct many types of misaligned teeth in children.
Another common piece of hardware used by your Louisville, KY orthodontist is a jaw expander. This tool is attached to the upper jaw and expanded every day using a small key. These adjustments are minute and non-painful.
The device is left in for a time to prevent the teeth from returning to their previous positions. This treatment helps correct underbites as well as crowding in the upper jaw, but braces may still be necessary.
One of the reasons it’s important to act quickly in correcting jaw misalignment in children is to avoid jaw surgery. Surgical correction is only used for extreme cases of misaligned teeth and jaws.
You may need to consider this option for your child if their quality of life is significantly impacted by the misalignment. Examples include difficulty sleeping, eating, and talking clearly.
Benefits of Orthodontic Care for Misaligned Teeth
Now that you understand how to identify a misaligned jaw, the most common causes, and how to correct them, let’s discuss the benefits. Some of the most sought-after benefits are included below.
- Relieves pain
- Improves oral health and dental care
- Reduces the risk of tooth decay
- Prevents premature tooth loss
- Improves clarity of speech
- Boosts confidence
The benefits your child receives depend on the severity of their condition, but almost every child with misaligned teeth can benefit from correction. Start by working with your Louisville KY, orthodontist.
Get Ahead of Jaw Misalignment
Jaw misalignment can be painful for children, impact their health, and lower their confidence. Getting treatment early can help avoid these problems from getting worse and may prevent the need for jaw surgery.
If you’re interested in learning more about braces for children or any other treatments, contact us today to schedule an appointment.