There are over 4 million people in the United States who wear braces. 75% of those people are children. With that staggering number in mind, it is crucial to watch for signs that your child may need to get braces.

If you are unsure if your child needs orthodontic treatment, read on to learn seven signs you should consider getting braces for your child.

1. Misaligned Jaw or Teeth

Misaligned teeth are typically a sign easy to identify for needing braces. Not all symptoms are as visible. 

A sign to look for in determining if your child’s jaw is misaligned is if they have trouble biting or chewing. If your child often bites the inside of their cheek when chewing, this may be a sign of misalignment.

As your child eats, listen for any clicking or watch for jaw shifting. These are also symptoms your child may need early orthodontic care.

Along with a misalignment of the jaw, the teeth can also have an incorrect placement. A mouth with misaligned teeth can show itself in three main signs:

Overbite

An overbite, often referred to as buck teeth is when the top front teeth extend past the front teeth in the bottom of the jaw.

Overbites can be minor, or they can be more severe and cause problems such as jaw pain.

Underbite

Just as with overbites, underbites can be mild or severe. An underbite occurs when the lower front teeth extend past the top front teeth.

If left untreated, a severe underbite can cause issues like damage to the top teeth, jaw pain, and difficulty chewing.

Crossbite

A crossbite can occur when upper teeth and bottom teeth are not aligned. In this case, the top teeth may angle in, while the bottom teeth angle outward.

The way a crossbite shows itself may be different from child to child. Often, a crossbite involves the back teeth.

2. Teeth Grinding

For many people, teeth grinding occurs at night during sleep. It is not easy to identify this in your child unless you’re present while they sleep.

However, if your child often complains of headaches, jaw pain, or sensitivity to hot or cold, these could be indicators they are grinding their teeth.

3. Thumb or Finger Sucking

Pacifiers and thumb or finger sucking are considered normal until age 4. Many children stop thumb sucking on their own between ages 2 and 4.

If children continue finger sucking or using a pacifier after this point, there is a risk of misalignment. Thumb sucking can affect the roof of the mouth, and a result may be the pull of the teeth forward and out of alignment.

4. Crowded Mouth

As you help your child brush their teeth, check the amount of space within their mouths. If your child’s teeth seem crowded or are beginning to push one another out of alignment, this may need orthodontic treatment.

Crowding can be mild, moderate, or severe as teeth begin to overlap with one another in the mouth.

Mild cases typically have one overlapping tooth, while a moderate case can have two or three teeth overlapping others. This overlapping can occur in both the upper and lower jaw.

Severe cases need more attention and treatment as, in these cases, most of the teeth in the mouth are overlapping.

5. Loss of Baby Teeth and Arrival of Adult Teeth

Losing teeth and gaining adult teeth can also play a pivotal role in whether or not a child will need braces. Perhaps your child lost baby teeth early or late or gained adult teeth early or late. This situation could mean misalignment of the mouth.

Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth

Losing baby teeth too early can cause the other teeth to move in place of the lost tooth, hindering the adult tooth underneath from coming in.

On the other hand, a late loss of baby teeth could keep the adult tooth underneath from erupting in proper position and strength.

Early or Late Arrival of Adult Teeth

If the arrival of adult teeth is too early, your child can have overcrowding in their mouths, requiring orthodontic care.

Similarly, if your child’s adult teeth are not coming in, there might not be enough room in their mouth for the teeth to come in. In some cases, baby teeth may need removing to make room for the large adult teeth. Your orthodontist will be able to help navigate this situation.

6. Mouth Breathing

Another sign that your child may need braces is a bit more subtle. Focus your attention on how they are breathing. If you notice that your child is primarily breathing out of their mouth, it could be a misalignment of the teeth or jaw.

7. Gaps or Protruding Teeth

Another more visible sign that your child may need braces is seeing either a gap in their teeth or teeth that protrude out. Small spaces in your child’s teeth can trap food and plaque, increasing the chance of tooth decay.

Teeth that protrude need to be evaluated by an orthodontist. If the teeth are severely protruding, you will want your child to receive treatment to prevent damage to the teeth.

Is It Time for Your Child to Get Braces?

Many children need to get braces to correct or support their oral health. Not all signs are preventable, but it is vital to address orthodontic issues early to prevent future damage.

If you notice any of these signs in your child, schedule an appointment with the best orthodontist near you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child.