10 Most Common Orthodontic Problems in Children

The goal of orthodontics is to address problems in the alignment of the teeth and jaws. Many people, especially parents, do not take their children to an orthodontist for a variety of reasons. Some think these issues will simply fix themselves, while others believe it is better to wait until adulthood.

Unfortunately, orthodontic problems, when left alone, can come with different consequences, such as:

  • Making it more difficult for children to keep their teeth clean
  • Affecting healthy eating or chewing functions
  • Making smile less attractive
  • Losing confidence

Adults are not the only ones with orthodontic issues. If your child has any of the ten problems below, you should have an orthodontist from Oasis Orthodontics see them as soon as possible:

Abnormal Eruption

A child's teeth showing an abnormal eruption.Tooth eruption happens to everyone, particularly with kids. Baby teeth, when they fall out, will be replaced by adult or permanent teeth. But when the new tooth emerges in the wrong place, it is an abnormal eruption.

There are various reasons why an abnormal eruption can occur, which include:

  • Losing a primary or baby tooth too early, causing other nearby teeth to change directions and spacing in the mouth
  • Losing the tooth too late, leading to a blockage of the growing permanent tooth
  • More teeth than usual (hyperdontia)
  • Mouth or jaw injury
  • Small mouth

Can an orthodontist fix abnormal eruptions? Yes! An orthodontist can diagnose and work with other specialists, such as a gum specialist to determine the treatment. If it does not fully grow, the solution is to conduct a minor surgery. It should be nothing to worry about and will actually help prevent other problems in the future.

Crowding

Crowding, which is also called overcrowded or crooked teeth, means that there is not enough room for all the teeth in the mouth. It typically happens when the tooth is still in its erupting stages. Because of the tight space, some teeth will look for other places where they can grow. Therefore, a symptom of crowding is when a tooth or teeth are either pushed forward or backward.

The cause can differ from one patient to another. However, the following are the most common:

  • Trauma or injury to the jaw
  • Genes
  • Environment

Often, the cause is a combination of the listed reasons above. Overcrowding can develop as your child grows. It is a prevalent problem for those who suck their thumbs or fingers until the age of five or beyond. Also, some children with very small spaces between their primary teeth can develop overcrowding, too. Permanent teeth are more prominent, which means that they need more space. If there is not enough space in the mouth, the teeth will either go forward or backward.

Straightening appliances are the best treatment for this orthodontic problem. In some cases, the teeth may be extracted. No matter what the solution may be, crowding should be fixed right away. The teeth become difficult to clean when brushing and flossing when they are crowded in the mouth. A big issue here is tooth decay, which is yet another dental problem to deal with.

Crossbite

A kids mouth held open by plastic showing cross-bite.A crossbite is when teeth fit inside within another arch while the others fit outside. In other words, teeth “cross over,” which is why this orthodontic issue has its name. It is a type of misalignment, which is what orthodontists work with. In this situation, the upper teeth can fit in the arch of the lower teeth. Some patients have groups of teeth with the problem, while others only have one tooth.

There are two types of crossbites:

  1. Anterior crossbite where the front teeth cross over, sting behind the bottom teeth
  2. Posterior crossbite, which means the back teeth are affected, and the upper teeth tend to sit within the bottom teeth

Anterior crossbites are not the same as an underbite, although they are often confused with each other. Genetics can be a massive contributor to a crossbite, as well as the delayed loss of baby teeth. If the child continues to thumb suck or swallow incorrectly, it can create damaging pressure to the teeth and gums. As a result, teeth will move to a different position and may even lead to bone distortion.

If left untreated, crossbites can make chewing extremely difficult for your child. Also, it can be an even bigger problem in the long run because a crossbite can lead to faster wear and damage to the teeth. An orthodontist may suggest for the child to wear either a fixed or removable appliance depending on the patient’s case.

Extra Space

A diagram showing the most typical problems in children's teeth.

 

The teeth tend to follow the size of the jaw. Therefore, if the child’s jaw is quite small, the teeth grow smaller than usual as well. As a result, there is excessive space in the mouth, leaving a noticeable gap where teeth will not erupt.

Because there is too much room in the mouth, the teeth create large spaces. In many children, this problem goes away when they lose their baby teeth. It is due to permanent teeth filling the areas, so the issue is no longer present. However, some conditions do not fix themselves on their own. If your child or teen has too much space between the teeth, you should have an orthodontist perform an assessment.

Abnormal spacing should be treated because it can lead to losing confidence. Your child may not want to smile a lot because they can get self-conscious of how their teeth would look. It is not just an aesthetic issue but can also affect how your child chews food. It is worth noting, as well, that food easily gets stuck between the teeth due to the extra space.

Braces are the most commonly used treatment for this problem. If it is not severe, the orthodontist may prescribe Invisalign or clear aligners instead.

Increased Overjet

An overjet is often confused with an overbite. Your orthodontist will tell you whether you have an overbite or overjet. If you have the latter, it means that there is a horizontal overlap of the teeth. It means that your top teeth are protruding over the bottom teeth.

Overjets are a measurement of how far the top teeth protrude. Usually, the dentist or orthodontist will tell you the size in mm. Overlapping is not viewed as something abnormal, as long as it is between two to four millimetres. It is determined as Class 1, which is the ideal protrusion.

Anything less than the range mentioned is considered a reduced overjet. In some instances, the lower incisors protrude ahead of the upper teeth. This condition is known as negative or reverse overjet.

An increase in overjet has many causes, including:

  • The positioning of the upper jaw in relation to the lower jaw, which is the most common cause
  • The discrepancy in the number of teeth
  • The arch length
  • Missing teeth
  • The increased inclination of the upper incisors (usually due to thumb-sucking habits)

Increased overjet can be treated using braces or other straightening appliances. However, because the case is often more serious, it may require traditional braces rather than Invisalign.

Midline Mismatch

A teeth diagram showing the midline of teeth off centred to what it should be.This orthodontic problem takes place when the centreline of the jaws does not match. It is also known as midline discrepancy or deviated midline. Often, the biggest culprit is jaw displacement. If the young patient has this issue, it means that it can be a part of an even bigger jaw difficulty. In other situations, though, the midline mismatch may be simply a case of a cosmetic problem.

Midline mismatch is actually quite a common condition in adults. However, it can appear in younger people as well. The good thing about this problem is that it can easily be fixed. It is particularly viewed as an aesthetic or cosmetic issue, which typically does not have many side effects. Severe cases, however, cause the person to find it difficult to chew. Plus, it can result in a crossbite in the back teeth.

Braces are the most straightforward solutions and most effective at correcting a misalignment. The appliance is also the top option, especially for those with midline mismatch combined with a crossbite. Braces are useful in skeletal realignment, which is a common problem in people with this condition.

Invisalign is also a good option, mainly for people with mild to average midline discrepancy. However, if the condition is paired with a crossbite or any other bite issue, you may require another dental appliance for correction.

Overbite

A young child's mouth showing obvious signs of overbite.If your kid has an overbite, it means that the upper front teeth overlap a lot of the lower front teeth. An overbite is a type of malocclusion that can range from mild to serious.

Malocclusions are categorised into three depending on their severity:

  • Class 1 is considered normal because there is just a slight, almost negligible overlap of the upper teeth. It is also the most common category of malocclusion.
  • Class 2 is when the overbite is severe, which is called retrognathic.
  • Class 3 is a severe underbite called prognathic.

Overbites occur due to many reasons, including the abnormal or unsuitable shape or size of the jaw concerning the teeth. It means there is either too much or too little space in the jaw for the teeth.

Apart from making chewing a great challenge, overbites can cause the lower teeth to hit the upper teeth and gums repeatedly while eating or even talking. Since these two functions are done every single day, having an overbite can seriously damage the teeth and gums. Therefore, it should be quickly addressed.

Open Bite

An open bite is easy to discern because it is pretty much self-explanatory. It is when the teeth and jaws do not meet. It is a type of malocclusion caused by a variety of reasons, including:

  • Thumb-sucking or prolonged pacifier sucking
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Skeletal problem

An open bite can also be due to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which is characterised by chronic jaw pain. People with TMJ often use their tongue for pushing teeth apart when repositioning their jaw to a much more comfortable position. Unfortunately, it can lead to an overbite.

Children are encouraged to change their behaviour, especially towards thumb-sucking. Parents should guide them, so they do not resort to this habit. An orthodontist may suggest that your child get braces, Invisalign, or a suitable mechanical treatment for the condition.

Protrusion

When teeth protrude to a considerable degree, it is a condition known as a protrusion or protruding teeth. It commonly affects the upper jaw. If your child plays sports, it is more important than ever to make sure the protrusion is treated. Falls and other accidents can also damage the exposed teeth.

Also, because of the abnormal positioning of the upper teeth, the lower teeth will not have something to restrict their growth. Most patients with protruding teeth have lower teeth that are larger than usual. If left alone, the lower teeth can cause irritation or, sometimes, injury to the upper teeth and gums.

Underbite

When the lower jaw protrudes or is longer than the upper jaw, it is an underbite. It has the same adverse effects as an overbite. Some people think that an underbite and a crossbite are the exact same thing, but there is a difference. In an underbite, all the top teeth are right behind the bottom teeth, whereas a crossbite can involve one or a group of teeth.

It is certainly not attractive to look at, especially as kids grow older. Although there are some cases where the protrusion is unnoticeable, having an underbite is more than just a cosmetic problem. If left untreated, your child may find it difficult to chew and bite food. Speaking may be harder than average as well. Underbites can also cause people to experience mouth and face pain because of jaw misalignment.

When it comes to achieving the perfect smile, Oasis Orthodontics is always eager to help. Schedule a consultation, and your child will soon have teeth they will love when they grow up.