If your child's baby teeth are growing crooked you might be worried that an expensive round of orthodontics may be required in the future. Our Smiletown orthodontists discuss whether you need to worry or not.
Causes Of Crooked Teeth
Both baby teeth and permanent teeth can grow crooked, or they can become crooked for a variety of reasons. Baby teeth sometimes move into crooked positions because they’re too small to fill the amount of gum space allocated to them. Prolonged habits, such as sucking on a pacifier or thumb, can also cause baby teeth to become pushed out or crooked. Heredity and genetics may also play a role.
Having crooked baby teeth doesn’t necessarily mean that your child's permanent teeth will grow in that way. However, if baby teeth crowd, the permanent teeth may be crowded as well.
Other causes include jaw size, malocclusion, genetics, poor dental care and nutrition, and trauma.
Can a child's crooked teeth straighten as they grow in?
A child's front permanent teeth may angle away from the center and appear misaligned. This is normal, and the teeth should straighten out naturally once the permanent teeth start to come in.
Kids start to lose their baby teeth around the age of 5. The last ones fall out by about age 12. Parents sometimes worry if they see their kids’ permanent teeth coming in crooked. And while some teeth might need straightening, it is important to remember that children in this age range are still growing their smiles. Some crookedness may even out on its own.
Ideally, a child should start having dental checkups as a toddler to prevent cavities and to monitor growth and development. When this is the case, the dentist will be aware of misalignment issues before they start to cause problems.
Why Crooked Teeth Should Be Straightened
The look of your smile is not the only problem with crooked adult teeth. People can develop serious dental health problems when misalignment is bad.
Your child is at a critical age when they're learning to speak, and very crooked or crowded teeth can affect a child’s speech development. Not only this but if they can’t close their mouth completely due to an overbite, they might have trouble breathing, especially at night. When teeth are too close together or turned at different angles, keeping them clean is difficult too. Not brushing and flossing well means a greater chance of cavities and gum disease.
In the worst cases, patients might have trouble chewing, jaw pain, and a condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
Many people go their entire lives with crooked teeth and never develop a serious problem. There is a chance that as a child’s jaw grows, their teeth might even out and straighten on their own as their mouth and jaw grow and change. If they do not, or if the misalignment is extreme, some type of orthodontic treatment might be necessary.
How Crooked Teeth Can Be Straightened
There are a number of orthodontic techniques that can be used to help straighten your smile if it is not doing so naturally.
Metal, ceramic, or clear braces are the most common choice for straightening teeth for children. Lingual braces attach to the inside of the teeth, but they need enough room to adequately fit and do their job. Most kids do not have big enough teeth for lingual braces.
Some orthodontists wait until the patient is about 10 years old, but many children as young as 7 can be fitted with braces. They are the most effective tool for almost any issue of crookedness or crowding. They also can work well for correcting malocclusions.
Retainers are often used once braces come off to keep your teeth from moving back into the incorrect position. A retainer might be all that is necessary for some mild cases of crookedness.
Children or adults with a “narrow smile” where the arch of their teeth is small, might need a palatal expander. The expander is attached to the back teeth and across the roof of the mouth. The device is gradually adjusted to push outward, widening the top jaw. After the jaw is expanded, braces might still be necessary to move the individual teeth into alignment.
Missing teeth can actually make crookedness worst, but sometimes pulling one or more teeth is required, most commonly in the case of serious overcrowding. Dentists might remove baby teeth to allow an adult tooth to erupt.
Plastic aligner trays like Invisalign can often fix mild to moderate crowding and crookedness. But aligners are not always recommended for young children. Adults and older kids who have finished growing may prefer this method, as it is removable and less noticeable than braces.