Should Orthodontics Be a Primary Dental Concern for Your Children?
As parents, we have many responsibilities and things we worry about, and for good reason. We work tirelessly to teach our children manners and how to interact with others. We do our best to position them to do well in school, spending hours at home helping those school studies sink in. We haul our kids back and forth to playdates, soccer games, and other activities. Finally, we schedule doctor and dentist visits to keep our kids happy and healthy so they can live long, fruitful lives. But where does orthodontics fit into all of that? If we’re teaching our kids how to brush and floss, are orthodontics for children all that necessary?
Make orthodontics for children one of your parental priorities.
Think back to when you were a youngster. Either you or your friends inevitably had braces. And the fact is that in North America, an estimated 4 million kids under the age of 18 have braces. That’s a lot of kids, so surely there must be a reason to prioritize orthodontic care in children. Not only is it essential to prioritize orthodontics for kids, which we’ll get into shortly, but we should also recognize that there is an increasing need for orthodontics today. Deprioritizing orthodontics for your child could end up not only being detrimental to their oral health but to their overall physical and mental health as well.
Why should kids get braces?
Kids need braces for various reasons. The most common reasons are to correct oral issues such as:
- Crooked teeth
- Bad bite
Kids also sometimes need braces if they have jaw and tooth problems caused by dental trauma, losing baby teeth too soon, or thumb sucking. But avoiding correcting these oral concerns can cause other issues for your child. The typical implications of not getting orthodontic care when it is needed include:
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Bad headaches due to a misaligned jaw or poor bite
- A crooked smile that causes embarrassment, keeping your child from wanting to smile, which can hinder their self-confidence
Teeth that are straight and properly positioned provide oral benefits as well as mental and physical benefits. Your child can better care for straight teeth because they are easier to brush and floss. Food is less likely to get stuck between straight teeth vs. crooked teeth, and gums are also easier to clean. This means less risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Though the above benefits might seem obvious, parents often overlook the other benefits of straight teeth.
The “Other” Benefits of a Straight Smile
Let’s cut to the chase—your child’s smile is far more important than you may realize. Smiling is an integral part of our overall health. When we smile, our brains release neuropeptides that help fight off stress, anxiety, and even depression. Our brains also start to release endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin which help generate feelings of happiness. In fact, when we’re feeling down, the very act of smiling can help us feel better. And this absolutely holds true for your kids. But the benefits of smiling go far deeper, especially for kids.
When we smile, it makes us more approachable to others. Smiling makes us appear more welcoming and confident, and intelligent too. This can help your child to make healthy friendships while they are young, and having friendships is a critical part of childhood (and adulthood too). But if your child has a crooked smile or crowded teeth, it can impact their facial aesthetics. And if your child is embarrassed about their teeth, it may keep them from smiling, thus keeping them from getting that natural neuropeptide release (aka, feeling of happiness).
Straight teeth help to prevent speech issues too. When teeth are out of position, it can be harder for kids to make the proper speech sounds. Bad speech can erode your child’s self-confidence and can be a roadblock in their ability to make friends, communicate with others, and so much more.
Prioritize interceptive orthodontics for your child.
An early orthodontic evaluation can help educate your child on harmful oral habits to avoid and lessen the risk of future dental trauma. At Compass Dental Group, we recommend that your child come in for an early orthodontic evaluation around the age of seven. During this appointment, their dentist will examine your child’s mouth for deep bites, underbites, open bites, crossbites, buck teeth, and crowding. Coming out of the evaluation, it may be determined that all is well and on track. But in many cases, interceptive orthodontics might be recommended.
Your child’s dentist might recommend braces or clear aligners to help guide permanent teeth into a more favorable and aesthetically pleasing position. In some cases, braces can help guide jaw growth and improve the way your child’s lips come together, resulting in a more pleasant-looking smile.
And we want parents to rest assured that there have been many modern improvements to orthodontics. Considering the history of orthodontics, where folks question the benefits, we know now that braces and orthodontics can help your child not only take better care of themselves but feel better about themselves too. And an estimated 50 – 70% of kids in the United States will wear braces before adulthood as a result. Trust us, when those braces come off, you’ll quickly see that your child’s entire body will benefit from straighter teeth.
Compass Dental Group asks you to prioritize orthodontics for children.
We hope this article has convinced you of the many benefits of an early orthodontic evaluation for your child around the time of their seventh birthday. So, if your child is due (or overdue) for that beneficial appointment and assessment, now is the time to request an appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon and helping your child smile their best smile.