If your child has crooked teeth, a dentist may refer you to an orthodontist. An orthodontist is someone who practices specialty dentistry and treats dental and facial abnormalities. One of the most common dental problems an orthodontist treats is crooked teeth. However, there are many other reasons a dentist may refer your child to an orthodontist.
Here are three of those reasons your child may need to see an orthodontist.
1. Your Child Has a Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
The jaw contains the temporomandibular joint, which connects it to the temporal bones of the skull. When there are problems with this joint, it's referred to as TMD. It's not always known what causes TMD. In some cases, TMD is caused when a child grinds or clenches their teeth.
Common symptoms of TMD include:
- Pain in the jaw area, especially while opening the mouth wide or chewing
- Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw
- Trouble chewing
Some children also experience lock-jaw, which is when their jaw gets stuck in an open or closed position. If your child has TMD, an orthodontist might recommend wearing a nightguard, which can prevent grinding. Other treatment options for TMD include wearing a splint or getting braces.
2. Your Child Has Bite Issues
Your child's bite is the way their upper and lower teeth fit together. If the teeth don't fit together in a normal pattern, they have a bad bite. Some of the most common bite problems include:
- Crossbite. The upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth.
- Underbite. The lower teeth are in front of the upper teeth.
- Overbite. The upper teeth stick too far out in front of the lower teeth.
All of these bad types of bites can cause problems with swallowing, chewing, speech, gums, and wearing away of the enamel. For these reasons, it's important for your child to see an orthodontist if they have a bad bite. Treatment options usually include wearing a removable retainer or braces.
3. Your Child's Teeth Are Overcrowded
Some children are born with small mouths, which results in them not having enough room for all of their teeth. Insufficient space in the mouth can cause overcrowding. Another dental issue that leads to overcrowding larger-than-normal teeth.
In either of these instances, overcrowded teeth can be hard to clean, which leads to cavities and gum disease. Overcrowding can either be mild, moderate, or severe. Treatment options for overcrowded teeth include wearing a retainer, braces, or dentofacial orthopedics.