Common Questions About Child Orthodontics - Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Common Questions About Child Orthodontics

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A young girl with braces on her baby teeth that is pointing to her orthodontic metal appliance.

More than 4 million people in the United States wear braces each year. That number is only increasing as more orthodontic options become available for straightening the teeth. If possible, it’s best to correct bite and alignment issues when young. About 1/4th of all braces wearers are children. A child has various options for straightening their bites depending on the size of their teeth and mouth. There are critical periods for providing this orthodontic intervention. Find out when that is and get the answers to the most frequently asked questions for child orthodontics!


What Is Child Orthodontics?

Of the 4 million braces wearings in the U.S., at least 1/4th of those patients are children being treated with child orthodontics. This is essentially the same type of orthodontic treatment that adults and teens receive, except that the orthodontic appliance is seeking to correct bite and alignment issues in the baby teeth. Thus, it is named child orthodontics.


The health of the adult mouth can be determined by the health of the mouth when there are still baby teeth. If the baby teeth are crooked, then the adult teeth might come in crooked. If a bite is off in childhood, it will continue to be off as a child ages. Bite and alignment problems can cause the jaws to form abnormally, which lead to speech problems. With abnormal bites, patients will have trouble eating and chewing properly and will experience side effects such as pain. Bite and alignment problems can be corrected much easier in children through braces instead of correcting the problems with surgery as an adult.


A young patient having their braces looked at in-office.

What Are Common Bite Issues?

Children can have jaws that don’t line up correctly. The teeth may receive uneven pressure when biting and chewing and can then sustain chips, cracks or breaks over time because of that pressure. This can happen in childhood and in adulthood. If a bite is in the wrong position, this may cause adult teeth to grow in crooked or at various angles as a child loses the baby teeth and gains the adult teeth. Child orthodontics corrects bite and alignment issues such as:

  • Overbite – The upper jaw rests too far forward in front of the teeth on the lower jaw. The upper jaw should rest on top of the lower jaw, with the front upper teeth being slightly in front of the front lower teeth.
  • Underbite – The upper jaw and front teeth rest behind the lower jaw instead of on top of the lower jaw and slightly forward. This can affect the ability to chew properly and can lead to jaw and joint pain, headaches, earaches and more.
  • Crossbite – With crossbite, the teeth are slanted in different directions, with some of them being more towards the tongue and others being more towards the cheeks. This can cause abnormal facial development, jaw problems, wear on the teeth, pain and more.
  • Openbite – Openbite refers to an opening (or gap) in the teeth when the upper and lower jaws come together. When the mouth is closed, there is a gap between the upper and lower front teeth. This can create problems with speaking such as speech impediments and lisps.


What Options Do Children Have?

There are more options today for orthodontic treatment then there were in years past. Instead of traditional metal braces as the only option for patients, there are lingual braces, ceramic braces and Invisalign treatment. Invisalign treatment is not the most suitable option for children, as aligners are transparent and can be lost easily. For children who need child orthodontics, the device will have to be one that helps correct bite and alignment issues. Transparent aligners don’t always do this, so that would not be an option we would likely choose for your child.


Traditional metal braces are the most popular type of option children choose to have. These can be dressed up with colorful bracket bands to express a child’s personality. They do an amazing job at straightening the teeth. Options like lingual braces and ceramic braces were designed to help hide the braces in the mouth more. Ceramic braces are like traditional metal braces except that they are made out of white ceramic material instead of metal. These are definitely suitable for child orthodontics.


Lingual braces are suitable for all age groups from children to adults. However, there must be enough space on the back of the teeth surfaces to fit the appliance. Your child will have this option if their teeth are large enough. An orthodontic consultation can help parents and children decide what orthodontic option is best for a child receiving child orthodontics.


A young female patient that is wearing braces and smiling at the camera.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs Braces?

Not every child with need child orthodontics. You can know if your child does need them if you take them in for an orthodontic consultation. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that every child have their first orthodontic visit between 7 and 8 years old. This is a time when many baby teeth have likely fallen out, and adult teeth are starting to grow in. We can spot the signs of bite and alignment issues during this time period and make a plan to correct misalignments.

We use child orthodontics to correct the issues, which typically takes less time than teen or adult straightening does. This is because the jawbones are still forming as a child grows, making it much easier for the teeth to shift into proper alignment. A child will likely need braces once more as a teen or adult to correct minor straightening issues when all the adult teeth have come into the mouth. The best way to know if your child needs braces or not is to bring them in for an orthodontic exam. You can do this by calling Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at (720) 887-6003!