With school out early for the year, now may be a good time for your child to be evaluated for braces. Braces are often recommended to improve one’s smile (or orofacial appearance) by correcting crooked or crowded teeth. Braces can also fix problems with the bite, including overbites, underbites, incorrect jaw position and disorders of the jaw joints.

When Your Child Might Need Orthodontic Treatment

Your child may have straight front teeth and still have malocclusion like a “deep bite” or overbite, causing problems when they chew, speak or sleep. While orthodontic treatment is typically done between the ages of 9 and 14 years, an earlier diagnosis of future malocclusion can also be determined from age 7 to 8. Early treatment can prevent the removal of permanent teeth down the road and guide your child’s skeletal growth to prevent additional problems.

Deep Bite

Orthodontics can be done to open your child’s bite and level the lower arch. When the mouth is closed and the top front teeth greatly overlap the bottom front teeth, your child has what we call a deep bite. This is often seen when the lower jaw is small, or short. This is problematic if the bottom teeth keep growing and eventually touch the back of the upper teeth on the roof of the mouth. A deep bite can also arise if a lower tooth is missing and when the biting muscles are too powerful.

Deep bites should be fixed not only to improve your child’s appearance but to avoid erosion of the lower front teeth and potential loss of the tooth’s structure from thinning and chipping of the enamel surfaces. Your child might also experience painful mouth sores if they are biting into the roof of their mouth, causing them pain when they try to eat. A growing child needs proper nourishment provided by eating a healthy diet, and that can be thwarted if it hurts to eat.

If excessive loss of the tooth structure occurs, your child’s bite will need to be opened by moving apart the top and bottom teeth through orthodontics. This creates room for the crowded teeth to align. Your orthodontist may move the upper or lower front teeth into the bone supporting the teeth. The teeth to the back and the side of the mouth can also be extended to open the bite.

TMJ Disorder and Orthodontics

TMJ/TMD arises when the temporomandibular joint joining the lower jaw (mandible) to the upper jaw near the temporal bone is misaligned. This causes the upper and lower teeth where the teeth meet to exert undue pressure on the temporomandibular joint. Orthodontic treatment can be used to realign the joint to lessen or relieve symptoms. TMJ is often the result of bite problems, stress and habitual teeth grinding and clenching. Wearing braces can correct TMJ disorder if your child’s TMJ results from misalignment or bite problems. Braces apply constant pressure to gradually shift teeth into their desired positions using advanced technology with archwires, brackets and rubber bands that keep braces in place. As the teeth are moved back into their proper positions, the TMJ also moves back into the proper alignment to relieve the symptoms of TMJ and prevent abnormal wear and tear on the teeth.

An orthodontist can assess your child’s smile by evaluating the position of their teeth and the size of their jaw to devise effective treatment for optimal oral development.

Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s bite.

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