Most people think of braces as a right of passage during the teenage years, but there are situations in which it is helpful to have braces earlier in childhood. Take a look at the ins and outs of childhood orthodontic treatment so you can see if your child could benefit.

When Is Early Orthodontic Treatment Appropriate?

Early orthodontic treatment can treat a range of conditions, including bite misalignment and front teeth that stick out. In the case of prominent front teeth, orthodontic intervention is often appropriate if the adult teeth start to come in misaligned. Some kids have protruding baby teeth but their adult teeth develop normally. If your child's second set of teeth stick out just as much as the first ones, then it is a good idea to ask your dentist what can be done to correct them.

What Are the Advantages of Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment is most urgently needed when problems with your child's teeth cause them difficulty with normal daily tasks, such as speaking, sleeping or eating. Many childhood speech impediments, for example, are caused by irregularities in the alignment of the teeth. Getting the problem fixed early can help your child to gain confidence in communication and allow them to develop normal relationships with other kids and adults.

Some children have such severe bite misalignment that they cannot fully close their mouths. This problem leads to snoring, which can disrupt sleep, as well as mouth dryness, which increases the growth of oral bacteria and can, therefore, lead to tooth decay. Early treatment with braces can help to protect your kids from cavities and help them to get the rest they need during childhood.

Some conditions respond better to early orthodontic treatment than to waiting until adolescence to begin treatment. The amount of time your kids need to wear braces can sometimes be minimised by starting treatment as early as possible.

What Are the Disadvantages of Early Orthodontic Treatment?

The main disadvantage of starting orthodontic treatment before puberty is that kids might need further treatments later on. The shape of the jaw changes a lot during puberty, which can lead to teeth shifting around.

To avoid the good work of childhood braces being undone during the teenage years, many dentists ask their young patients to wear a retainer, which most teens find preferable to braces. The retainer provides just enough pressure on the teeth to prevent them from reverting to their previous misalignment.

If you are not sure whether it is better for your child to have orthodontics now or wait until they are teenagers, ask your dentist for advice. The best option in each case depends on individual factors which your dentist can discuss with you.