Here at Hunter Family Orthodontics, we’re proud to create beautiful smiles our patients love! Our expert team combines personalized care with the latest in orthodontic technologies and treatments for the best results. We work with patients of all ages from our office in The Woodlands, including young children. As an experienced orthodontic specialist, Dr. Hunter can identify and treat a range of issues in these children. One of the most common problems we see in kids is a misaligned bite, also known as malocclusion.
Malocclusions will sometimes cause jaw pain or other problems for children. The good news is, these issues can often be caught during early childhood evaluations! These visits are so important that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child has one by the time they’re about seven years old. Evaluations like these allow an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Hunter to check how a child’s dental development is progressing and assess their overall bite. With this approach, any necessary treatment can begin at the most opportune time.
When you schedule a complimentary consultation for your child with our office, Dr. Hunter will perform a painless oral examination of their teeth and jaw. He’ll be checking for signs of any current or potential orthodontic issues, several of which can show up during these early childhood exams. We’re going to outline some of the most common ones below, so keep reading to learn more!
A good dental hygiene routine is essential for maintaining oral health, but crowded teeth can interfere by making brushing and flossing more difficult. This increases the risk of developing tooth decay, cavities, and other dental issues.
Gaps in the teeth are quite common in childhood and occur for various reasons. These may include genetics, thumb sucking, and extended use of a bottle or pacifier. When a child has too much space between their teeth, it is important to identify any underlying causes and address them if necessary.
Some children have a gapped smile because of congenitally missing teeth. Others may lose permanent teeth through injury or disease. Whatever the cause, children with missing teeth will often benefit from orthodontic appliances like braces. These appliances can move the existing teeth into the proper positions, at which point a dentist can place a bonded bridge or implant to fill the gap.
With an open bite, the upper and lower rows of the front teeth do not touch or close when a child is smiling or chewing. Many open bite cases come from extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth to grow into a noticeably rounded formation.
When a child has a deep overbite, their lower teeth recede so far behind the upper teeth that they bite into the roof of the mouth. The upper front teeth also tend to overlap the lower front teeth. A deep overbite can also have an impact on the shape and appearance of a child’s face. Out of all the bite disorders, this one tends to be the most detrimental to a child’s teeth and the health of their jaw joints.
An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause pain in the jaw joint. The angled pressure may also wear down some of the front teeth, which can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful for a child.
Overjets, commonly referred to as “buck teeth,” occur when a child’s top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. Overjets are most effectively treated when diagnosed early, as this allows an experienced orthodontist to guide the eruption of their permanent teeth.
How are misalignments treated?
Your child’s smile is as unique as they are, which is why Dr. Hunter will provide them with a customized treatment plan! This plan is built around their specific needs and may include one or more orthodontic appliances, something we’ll discuss with you in detail during your child’s evaluation. Our practice offers the following treatment options.
Traditional metal braces are extremely effective at straightening smiles, particularly in cases that are more severe or complicated. Modern braces use high-quality stainless steel and innovations in the design mean they’re lighter and more comfortable than previous versions. They’re more aesthetically appealing these days, too!
These braces work the same way traditional braces do but have the added benefit of clear brackets. When paired with clear, white, or tooth-colored elastics, these braces are an incredibly subtle option. This makes them popular with our more image-conscious patients! Because the clear brackets are a bit more delicate than their metal counterparts, we generally recommend them for teen and adult patients only.
The Invisalign system uses a series of clear removable aligners to move the teeth instead of brackets and wires. These are made of a unique thermoplastic resin material that fits snugly but comfortably over the teeth. Patients must wear the aligners for 20-22 hours each day to move the teeth into the desired positions. Each aligner must also be switched out for the next in the series every 1-2 weeks to keep up with the shifting teeth. Because they’re removable, Invisalign aligners offer patients an extra measure of freedom and flexibility!
Set your child’s smile up for success with Hunter Family Orthodontics
Every patient has specific needs and goals. What works for one may not be a good fit for another, so it’s important to work with a qualified orthodontist like Dr. Hunter! During your child’s evaluation, he’ll review their bite issues, then provide a diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. This helps ensure they receive the right treatment for their smile when they need it the most!
Correcting a child’s misaligned bite comes with many benefits. It can help prevent or eliminate jaw pain and may also:
- reduce the risk of developing tooth decay and cavities
- improve speech
- reduce the risk of chipped or lost teeth
- improve oral function
- increase self-confidence
- make eating, sleeping, and breathing easier!
If Dr. Hunter feels that it’s in your child’s best interest to wait for treatment, we’ll invite you to return for regular monitoring. This gives us the chance to observe how their smile is developing as they grow and will let us know when they’re ready for the next step in their orthodontic journey. We provide these visits at no charge to you.
You can feel confident that Hunter Family Orthodontics will always do what’s best for your child because we treat your family like our family! The treatment we recommend will always honor the trust that you’ve placed in us. To learn more about how our expert team can identify and treat misalignments, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation for your child!