Orthodontic Treatment for Kids in Denver, CO
At All About Braces, our mission is to help patients of all ages achieve a beautiful, healthy smile through orthodontic treatment. We're proud to serve patients throughout Aurora, Lakewood, Arvada, Thornton, and the greater Denver, CO area, and we offer a wide range of treatments including braces and Invisalign to help you achieve your dream smile. While braces are common for teenagers and adults, sometimes the best way to achieve a healthy smile in the long-term is to start early. If you're a parent of a young child, here are a few tips for helping to minimize the need for orthodontics in the future.
Why Do Kids Get Orthodontic Problems?
Before we dive into orthodontic prevention tips, we'll need to add a qualifier: ultimately, it's impossible to entirely prevent the need for orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics is the only way to ensure a healthy smile for the long-term, and most people develop some form of orthodontic malocclusion regardless of their own actions. The reason for this is that the human mouth isn't usually big enough to fit of our teeth: unless you're your child was lucky enough to be born without wisdom teeth, they'll probably need orthodontic treatment.
How to Prevent Orthodontic Problems
That said, there are a number of things you can do as a parent to help minimize treatment need and prevent orthodontic issues from getting more serious than necessary. The first step? Start early! The earlier you start to monitor and address your child's smile, the better their chance of achieving a healthy smile in the long-term. In keeping with the American Association of Orthodontists, we ask all parents to bring their children in for an initial consultation by age 7 – but in some cases, we need to start earlier.
Bad Childhood Habits for Teeth
In particular, we may need to pursue early orthodontic treatment if your child develops one of a number of parafunctional habits. These are habits that negatively affect the growth and development of the teeth and jaws, and if left unattended, they can exacerbate existing orthodontic problems or create new ones that weren't originally there. If you notice your child developing any of these habits, it's time to start addressing them and bring your child in for a consultation:
- Prolonged Thumb Sucking:
The sucking reflex is a natural instinct, and it's common for infants and babies to suck on a thumb or finger for comfort. However, if this behavior continues past age 4, it can start to warp the development of the teeth. Prolonged thumb sucking produces a malocclusion called an open bite, in which the upper and lower teeth don't overlap when the mouth is closed. The best way to prevent this is to break the thumb-sucking habit after age 4, which we can do easily and painlessly through orthodontic appliance therapy.
- Tongue Thrusting:
Some kids learn to swallow in a way that pushes the front of their tongue against their upper front teeth in a phenomenon called tongue thrusting. Unfortunately, tongue thrusting also causes open bite – so if you notice this behavior in your child, it's time for an appointment.
- Mouth Breathing:
It's perfectly normal for kids to breathe through their mouths occasionally. But if your child breathes only through the mouth, leaving the mouth open at all times, it can actually affect the development of the muscles and bones in the face, causing orthodontic problems. If you notice your child doing this, we recommend bringing them in for a treatment consultation.
Contact Your Denver, CO Children's Orthodontists
While there's no way to avoid orthodontic treatment for certain, keeping an eye out for these habits and ensuring you bring your child in for an early consultation is the best way to ensure their chances for a great smile and minimize the amount of treatment they need overall. Feel free to contact us if you have more questions about early orthodontic treatment or want to schedule a consultation for your child. We can't wait to hear from you, and we wish you luck in ensuring a healthy, beautiful smile for your little one!