It’s fascinating to watch as your child transitions from a toddler to a school-aged child and then into their teens, with the arrival of adult teeth a major part of this transformation.
But often the way those teeth arrive isn’t quite as expected. Some might overlap, others arrive a little out of place and some don’t even turn up at the time they were expected.
The good news is, that’s quite normal. But it can have you wondering whether your child will need braces.
If you’re thinking braces might be likely or are wondering whether they’re on the cards, here’s what you need to do next.
Some quick teeth facts
A child’s jaw is still growing as adult teeth begin their progressive arrival, and that may mean the position and angle these teeth emerge at is not where they will end up.
You might notice your child’s teeth have large spacing between them, some appear too close, some teeth overlap others, or some adult teeth even arrive in front of or behind their baby teeth.
You might also notice they struggle to make some speech sounds during this development, with the position and angle of teeth both contributing to how speech sounds are formed.
As we mentioned, this is often quite normal and part of a child’s development, with teeth finding their way into an orderly position as more adult teeth emerge, and the jaw continues to grow.
However, these can also be clues that your child may require orthodontic work in the future, and there are major benefits to seeing an orthodontist sooner rather than later.
When to see an orthodontist
Even if your child’s teeth appear to be arriving in perfect order, the Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends all children see an orthodontist between the ages of 7 and 10.
At this crucial stage of development, the key adult teeth are in place, while those yet to emerge are often visible beneath the gumline, or their position can be predicted.
This early assessment allows an orthodontist to gauge whether there are potential future problems with both teeth positioning and the bite that can be minimised now.
For example, an orthodontist might recognise your child’s palate is too narrow, which is likely to cause teeth overcrowding in the future. They may then recommend early intervention to address the issue, allowing the palate to expand as your child grows, and reducing the need for extensive orthodontic work in the future.
Meanwhile, an orthodontist is not just looking at the way the teeth are positioned, they are also examining the bite and jaw to make sure teeth meet at the right angle for a lifetime of good dental health and general wellbeing.
So, what happens next?
The initial assessment
Whether your child is 7, 11 or 13, the first step to understanding whether they need braces is to schedule an appointment with a specialist orthodontist.
No referral is required, and as we mentioned, this first meeting with an orthodontist can take place when your child is as young as 7.
At this appointment the orthodontist will look at your child’s teeth development and bite, taking images of what is going on.
They will then use their expert knowledge to determine what treatment, if any, is required and discuss the best course of action and options available.
What should I consider in choosing an orthodontist?
If it appears your child will need orthodontic treatment like braces, you should carefully assess the credentials, expertise and level of service of the orthodontist you intend to work with.
Factors to consider in selecting an orthodontist include:
Their reputation – Reputation is one of the most important factors you should seek out in an orthodontist, as it allows you to understand how they are regarded by patients and the industry.
Their credentials – Orthodontics is a highly specialised field of dentistry, requiring an additional three years of training on top of a general dentistry degree. It’s worth ensuring your orthodontist is correctly accredited with a specialist orthodontic degree.
Previous results – A good orthodontist will likely have a portfolio of results. Some will have before or after images on their website, while others will have that information available at their clinic.
Treatment – At your first appointment, an orthodontist will conduct a preliminary assessment of your child’s teeth and alignment and talk you through the options available. This first meeting provides valuable insight into the care, professionalism and treatment you will receive throughout your relationship.
Location – Orthodontic work requires regular appointments, and these can be as often as every six weeks. This means the location of your orthodontist should be a big factor in selecting the right professional for you.
Technology – Orthodontics not only requires skill, but the use of technology to achieve the best possible result. During your first visit to a clinic, you should assess the general state of the facilities and the quality of the technology used.
Environment – The clinic should be warm and welcoming, yet professional. You can see our clinic and facilities here, and meet some of the Norwest staff to better understand our approach.
Cost – A great smile is an investment that lasts a lifetime, and it’s important you clearly understand the costs involved. Orthodontic work is often less expensive than people anticipate, but before you select an orthodontist, it’s critical you know how much you will pay and how that payment will be charged.
What treatment options are available?
At the initial assessment, your proposed orthodontist should walk you through the treatment options available for your child’s specific circumstances.
The truth is there is no one size fits all approach. Just as every patient is an individual, so are their teeth and the treatment options should be viewed accordingly.
That said, here are some of the more common treatment options available, including our preferred options at Norwest Orthodontics:
Known as the Rolls Royce of the braces’ world, Damon Braces are a self-ligating system designed to offer shorter treatment times, fewer extractions and increased patient comfort.
They’re also highly regarded as being a gentle braces system that helps maintain greater oral hygiene.
Self-ligating braces differ to traditional lingual braces as they allow a custom-made arch wire to slide though the brackets and shift teeth into position, rather than the arch wire being “tied” to the brackets.
Damon Braces are also available with clear brackets.
Invisalign uses a series of custom-fitted clear aligners that are regularly changed to guide teeth into the desired position. Patients are required to wear their aligners 22 hours a day, removing them only to eat and for rare special occasions.
Invisalign treatment is ideal for people seeking a more discreet orthodontic option.
About Norwest Orthodontics
Norwest Orthodontics specialises in helping you achieve a great smile, no matter your age. We feature a range of orthodontic treatments that span from early intervention right through to remedial adult work.
We also have a suite of treatments available that include discreet, removeable Invisalign braces, and welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.