10 early warning signs your child needs an orthodontist

Orthodontist Consultation: 10 Early Warning Signs Are you concerned about the gaps in your child’s teeth or their crooked upper front teeth? Or do you notice that their top and bottom rows of teeth don’t seem aligned? These are some of the warning signs that your child may be in need of orthodontic treatment. Malocclusion (misalignment) of teeth and jaws affects a lot of children. Orthodontists specialize in diagnosing, preventing, and treating irregularities of the teeth to achieve straight, healthy smiles. Early intervention from an orthodontist can help to prevent these problems from worsening over time. For parents who are unsure if their child has a bite problem or needs professional help, here’s a list of 10 early warning signs that could indicate your child needs a visit to an orthodontist.

1. Crowded or Crooked Teeth

Crooked or crowded teeth are signs that a child needs to be evaluated by an orthodontist, as these problems can signal potential issues that may need to be addressed in order to improve a child’s overall dental health. If untreated, crowding or crooked teeth can increase the risk of cavities due to difficulty brushing properly, as well as gum infections caused by pockets of plaque and bacteria.

2. Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth

Early or late loss of baby teeth is an important sign that your child may need orthodontic care. Early loss of baby teeth can result in premature alignment problems in the adult teeth, while late loss of baby teeth can lead to issues with overcrowding.

3. Difficulty Chewing or Biting

Difficulty with chewing or biting food can be a sign that your child may need orthodontic treatment. If your child is having difficulty biting off pieces of food or has pain while chewing, this could indicate that their teeth and jaws are not properly aligned. This misalignment can cause them to have difficulty performing simple tasks like eating, speaking, and cleaning their teeth.

4. Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing is a common sign of an underlying orthodontic problem. It can be caused by an improper bite, a narrow upper arch, and incorrect jaw position or alignment. All these conditions can interfere with the normal development of your child’s facial muscles and airway, resulting in mouth breathing.

5. Thumb or Finger Sucking

Thumb or finger-sucking is a common habit in young children and is usually nothing to worry about. However, if your child continues the habit beyond a few years of age, it may be an indication that they could benefit from orthodontic treatment. Constant thumb or finger sucking can cause teeth to become misaligned, causing gaps between teeth and/or putting pressure on the jaw joint, which can lead to TMJ disorders.

6. Grinding or clenching teeth

Grinding or clenching teeth, also known as bruxism, can cause tooth wear and damage. It could be an indication that their bite is misaligned, which can cause pain, headaches, and even difficulty with jaw movement. Teeth grinding or clenching can also put excess stress on the teeth and lead to wear that increases the risk of tooth loss over time.

7. Speech Difficulties

Speech difficulties are often associated with improper jaw function or misaligned teeth. Without proper alignment, the tongue and lips may not be able to move correctly in order to form sounds and words. Also, the extra effort required to speak can cause fatigue and inhibit communication.

8. Protruding or Recessed Jaw

A protruding or recessed jaw can affect your child’s appearance and cause issues with their bite. Protruding or recessed jaws can lead to problems with chewing and speaking, as well as cause other dental issues such as malocclusions.

9. Jaws That Shift or Make Sounds

Jaws that shift or make sounds are an indication that your child may have an issue with their bite. This could be due to misalignment of their teeth, a jaw joint issue, or something else entirely. Your child should see an orthodontist for a comprehensive evaluation because they can help determine the underlying cause and recommend treatment options if needed.

10. Missing Teeth

Missing baby or adult teeth can be an indicator of a more serious problem, such as a jaw-related issue, crowding of the teeth, or a dental abnormality. Seeing an orthodontist is important if you notice your child missing any of their baby or adult teeth prematurely in order to diagnose and treat any underlying issues. If you notice any of these warning signs in your child, it’s important to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist. Early treatment can prevent more serious issues from developing later on and can help your child achieve a healthy and beautiful smile. Orthodontic treatment can also boost your child’s confidence and improve their overall quality of life.

Common Orthodontic Treatments

During an orthodontic consultation, the orthodontist will evaluate your child’s teeth, jaws, and bite and recommend a treatment plan. Treatment options may include:


Braces are the most common orthodontic treatment and consist of brackets, wires, and rubber bands. They apply gentle pressure to the teeth to move them into the correct position. Braces can be made of metal, ceramic, or clear materials and can be customized to fit your child’s individual needs.

Invisalign Aligners

Invisalign aligners are an alternative to braces and consist of a series of clear, removable trays that are custom-made for your child. They apply gentle pressure to the teeth to move them into the correct position, and can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing.

Palatal Expanders

Palatal expanders are dental appliances that widen the upper jaw and create more space for teeth to grow. They are often used when a child has crowded teeth or when children’s jaws have not grown evenly. The appliance works by putting gentle pressure on the upper molars over time, gradually widening the palate.


Dental spacers are small bands or elastic loops that are used to create space between the teeth or prepare them for orthodontic treatments. They are generally made of plastic and used as a form of temporary braces. Spacers can be placed over the temples, cheeks, lips, and tongue to provide pressure in certain areas while the teeth adjust to the new spacing.

Schedule an Orthodontic Consultation

It’s important to schedule an orthodontic consultation if you notice any of the warning signs in your child. An orthodontist is specially trained to diagnose and treat dental issues related to the alignment of teeth, jaw position, and bite. An orthodontic consultation typically includes a physical examination, dental digital x-rays, impressions of your child’s teeth, and a discussion about possible treatment options. Give our office a call today to schedule an appointment for your child with our orthodontic team!

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