Common causes of orthodontic problems in children, and what to do about them

26 August 2021

Early Lost of Teeth


Most orthodontic problems can develop in children from as early as seven years old, while others can be caused by bad habits at an even younger age or an early loss of teeth. Although parents may avoid bringing their children to an orthodontic clinic in Singapore for reasons such as believing that the teeth will adjust into a healthy position in time, or worrying that it is too early to start treatment, the truth is orthodontic problems that start early often result in more serious issues in the future. Problems relating to the child’s teeth and jaws can also make it difficult for them to clean their teeth properly, feel discomfort when chewing, and even lose confidence because of the way their teeth look. As such, it is important for parents to be aware of the common causes of orthodontic problems for children, and what can be done to correct them. 


#1 Early tooth loss 


For young children, early tooth loss is one of the most common causes of crowding. Crowding occurs when there is not enough space in the gums for teeth to grow. The teeth start to push forwards or backwards and overlap with one another, causing the child’s teeth to become crooked. When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the adjacent permanent teeth may grow into the space that was occupied by the baby tooth – leaving no room for the permanent tooth that is supposed to replace the baby tooth to grow at the right time. 


Orthodontist in Singapore


If your child has lost their baby teeth early, it is advisable to visit an orthodontist in Singapore for early intervention. The orthodontist will use space maintainers to preserve the right amount of space between the teeth and prevent overcrowding at later stages. Should crowding have already occurred, Invisalign clear aligners or fixed metal braces may be recommended by your child’s orthodontist to correct crowding and restore a set of healthy teeth. 


Space Maintainers


#2 Bad habits 


Bad habits like thumb-sucking or pacifier-sucking can affect the growth of the teeth and roof of the mouth, causing bite problems like an overbite or open bite. An overbite is a protrusion of the upper teeth over the lower teeth, which may result in potential problems like the lower teeth constantly hitting against the roof of the mouth or a lisp. Whereas, an open bite is when the top and bottom teeth do not meet when the mouth is closed.


Orthodontic Habit Breakers


For a child that has any of these habits, the orthodontist will advise the use of habit breakers. These are metal devices that can be worn in the mouth to discourage sucking or pushing the tongue against the roof of the mouth. A palatal thumb habit crib is one type of habit breaker that stops suction in the mouth; even with a pacifier in the mouth, the child is unable to suck on it. Another type of habit breaker that prevents thumb-sucking is the hay rake, which has combs that fall behind the front teeth. Whenever the child tries to suck their thumb, they touch the hay rake and are reminded to remove their thumb from the mouth. 

Again, should an overbite or open bite already have occurred, the orthodontist can correct it by having the child wear removable clear aligners called Invisalign, or fixed metal braces.


Braces for Children


Read more: What every parent needs to know about braces for children


#3 Abnormal jaw or facial growth 


Did you know that the development of your child’s jaw affects the position of their teeth as well as their facial profile? An overly large or small jaw that is unable to accommodate the teeth well can cause problems like teeth crowding or spaces between teeth, and the growth of the upper and lower jaws at different rates can cause bite problems like an overbite or underbite.


Symptoms of Abnormal Jaw Growth


Should your child experience the above problems, an orthodontist in Singapore can correct jaw growth through the use of dentofacial orthopaedics. These are appliances that adjust the amount, direction, and rate of jaw development. A palate expander, for instance, is a dentofacial appliance that pushes against the cartilage on the roof of the mouth to expand the upper jaw bone (also known as the maxilla). Contrarily, since the lower jaw bone cannot be widened, a lower jaw expander works by shifting the teeth apart instead. Bite blocks are silicone props placed in the mouth for the child to bite on, adjust the jaw’s positioning through the force of the child’s bite. 


Palate Expander


Is it too early to begin treatment? 


Prevention is better than cure! Early treatment is key to preventing more serious orthodontic problems from developing, thus, simplifying future treatment for your child. For instance, using space maintainers during early tooth loss will avoid lengthier treatment with dental braces or removable clear aligners later on. Similarly, for bad habits like thumb-sucking, habit breakers should be introduced as early as the age of four or five, to stop these habits from persisting and affecting healthy teeth growth.  


My Braces Clinic is a specialist braces orthodontic clinic in Singapore that offers interceptive braces treatment for children. Be it space maintainers, metal braces, or Invisalign aligners, arrange a consultation with our orthodontists to find the best treatment solutions for your child, here!


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