Common Orthodontic Issues

Orthodontist tightening braces on a girl

Braces are commonly used to straighten crooked teeth, but that isn’t their only function. Braces and other orthodontic appliances are used to treat a wide range of common orthodontic issues. It’s recommended that children have their first consultation with an orthodontist by age 7.

At your appointment, you and your orthodontic care team can explore common orthodontic problems, identify any that might be present, and design a care plan. Moreover, many common issues which can cause increasing problems as your child develops can be easily remedied during adolescence. Learn what to look for so you can discuss potential treatment with your child’s orthodontist. Early intervention makes a huge difference.

Teeth Crowding

Lack of space in the Jaw

Teeth crowding before
Before
Teeth crowding after
After

Teeth crowding happens when there isn’t enough space in the jaw for the teeth to erupt correctly. As a result, teeth can come out at odd angles or tucked behind other teeth. Crowding tends to increase with age, so addressing it early can save your kiddo a lot of headaches down the line.

Dental crowding can result from various environmental, congenital, and behavioral causes. One of the most common behavioral reasons is sucking on a thumb or pacifier after about the age of three. The constant pressure on the teeth can cause them to move out of place, crowding out the rest of the mouth. Fortunately, crowding is one of the most common reasons for orthodontic treatment and the care plan is well established. Talk with your child’s dentist about if and when your child might benefit from orthodontic treatment.

Open Bite

Front Teeth Don't Touch

Open bite before
Before
Open bite after
After

An open bite is identified by an outward slant of the front teeth, resulting in a gap between top and bottom teeth when the jaw is closed. The most common causes are misalignment in the jaw, sucking on a thumb or pacifier, and tongue thrusting (pushing the tongue against the back of the teeth).

When an open bite is identified in childhood, a combination of orthodontic treatment and behavior modification can address the cause and consequences. A successful care plan could potentially prevent the need for corrective surgery in the future.

Phase one

Preventative treatment for developing mouths

Phase One before
Before
Phase One after
Phase One
Phase Two after
Phase Two

Teeth crowding happens when there isn’t enough space in the jaw for the teeth to erupt correctly. As a result, teeth can come out at odd angles or tucked behind other teeth. Crowding tends to increase with age, so addressing it early can save your kiddo a lot of headaches down the line.

Dental crowding can result from various environmental, congenital, and behavioral causes. One of the most common behavioral reasons is sucking on a thumb or pacifier after about the age of three. The constant pressure on the teeth can cause them to move out of place, crowding out the rest of the mouth. Fortunately, crowding is one of the most common reasons for orthodontic treatment and the care plan is well established. Talk with your child’s dentist about if and when your child might benefit from orthodontic treatment.

deep overbite

Lower front teeth bite into palate

Deep overbite before
Before
After

Any time the upper front teeth protrude over the lower front teeth, we call that an overbite. When minor, it’s usually not a big deal and may not require treatment. However, if left untreated, some overbites can become worse or lead to other problems.

Common secondary problems include difficulty chewing and speaking, jaw pain, gum disease, and tooth decay. That’s because jaw misalignment can cause teeth to wear down more quickly or cause damage to the roof of the mouth.

Missing lateral incisors

Missing teeth due to genetics

Missing lateral incisors before
Before
Missing lateral incisors after
After

Hypodontia is a common condition in which a patient is missing one or more teeth. Importantly, hypodontia refers to a congenital lack of certain teeth; it does not refer to teeth lost through trauma or behavior. Moreover, because it is congenital there is a genetic component. If you have hypodontia, it’s more likely your child will too.

The most common missing tooth is the upper lateral incisor (between your front teeth and your canines), impacting about two percent of the population. If your child is missing their lateral incisors or any other teeth, our orthodontic team at Families First Pediatrics can discuss a number of potential treatment options.

Underbite

Lower front teeth in front of upper teeth

Underbite before
Before
Underbite after
After

Whenever a patient’s bottom teeth protrude over the top teeth, we call that an underbite. Just like an overbite, mild cases may not need treatment but can lead to larger problems in the future.

Underbites are estimated to impact between 5% and 10% of the population and can lead to jaw pain, tooth decay, gum disease, and difficulty eating and speaking. Orthodontic treatment can remedy an underbite by adjusting the positioning of the teeth and jaw until they sit more comfortably.

Surgical Underbite

Lower front teeth in front of upper teeth

Surgical underbite before
Before
Surgical underbite after
After

Your orthodontic team at Families First Pediatrics will make every effort to create a treatment plan that is the least invasive. Most common issues can be corrected with a combination of braces and retainers, but certain irregularities can’t be corrected with orthodontic appliances alone.

Jaw surgery to correct an underbite or other malocclusion may be an option after growth stops, which varies from person to person. An oral surgeon can help move the jaw into a more correct position by adding or removing bone. In most cases, this type of operation can be performed from inside the mouth, leaving the patient with no visible scars.

Spacing of teeth

Teeth with large gapping

Spacing of teeth before
Before
Spacing of teeth after
After

A condition called diastema, commonly called “gap teeth” is one of the most common orthodontic issues. Most of the time, it presents as a gap between the front teeth but can be located anywhere in the mouth. Diastema is incredibly common among children and doesn’t usually require treatment unless it persists after the secondary teeth come in.

When this condition persists, it’s usually caused by a mismatch between the size of the jaw and the size of the teeth. Tooth gaps can also be caused by thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, and gum disease. Many gaps are purely cosmetic and some people love their tooth gap, but more extreme gaps can lead to tooth decay or bone loss in some locations. If you’re unsure whether a gap is cute or problematic, talk with your child’s orthodontist.

Overjet

Protruding front teeth

Overjet before
Before
Overjet after
After

In layman’s terms, an overjet is known as “buck teeth” and often confused with a more conventional overbite. In an overjet, the upper teeth protrude over the bottom teeth, just like in an overbite, but they also exit the jaw at an outward angle.

An overjet can be hereditary or can be caused by thumb-sucking, pacifiers, or tongue thrusting. In addition to the cosmetic downside, an overjet can cause problems with eating and speaking and usually benefits from orthodontic treatment.

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