Misaligned, Crooked or Spaced out Teeth
Crooked and misaligned teeth can be tough for kids to deal with. When they have large gaps or spaces between their teeth, they may get stuck with mean name-calling about their cosmetic flaws. But these teeth problems have proven solutions, and your dentist can tell you what treatments work best for your child.
Name-calling is one thing, but misaligned, crooked or spaced out teeth present other, more serious problems to worry about. There also are functional reasons to have your children’s teeth aligned properly — like being able to chew and speak correctly. And if your kids are having problems with their baby teeth, it’s vital that they receive treatment from a compassionate top rated dentist to create the space for their permanent teeth to come in.
Why Your Kids Have Crooked Teeth
There are a number of causes that can make a child’s teeth grow crooked, misaligned, twisted or spaced apart. Some kids have teeth that are actually too big for their mouths (or mouths too small for the teeth), and that causes crowding. The upper and lower jaws can also be different sizes or not formed properly from birth, causing an overbite — where the upper jaw protrudes over the lower jaw — or an under bite — where the lower jaw protrudes out past the upper jaw.
Typically, your child inherits traits, such as crooked or misaligned teeth. Other causes of irregular spacing issues include:
- Early loss of baby teeth
- Loss of adult teeth
- Improper fitting of child crowns and fillings
- Injury that causes misalignment
- Thumb sucking as a baby
- Mouth tumors
- Prolonged use of a bottle or pacifier
Common Problems of Crooked Teeth
If your child has spaces between teeth, crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, it can cause the serious conditions, such as:
- Increased strain on the teeth, resulting in chipped or broken teeth
- Improper chewing
- Higher risk for tooth decay in children, gingivitis and cavities
- Low self-esteem from the cosmetic abnormalities
While your New Jersey kids dentist can treat these conditions, it’s best when you catch the problems early. By aligning your children’s teeth, you can prevent future issues from developing, too.
Signs of Crooked or Misaligned Teeth
You and your child can see some of the more obvious signs of crooked teeth issues, but your kids dentist in New Jersey can properly diagnose the condition and recommend appropriate treatment. Here are some of the signs you should look for:
- Abnormal facial appearance
- Abnormal teeth alignment
- Speech difficulties, like talking with a lisp
- Unusual chewing or biting motion
If these symptoms are present, your New Jersey kids dentist may refer your child to a specialist called an orthodontist whose area of specialty is treating misaligned jaws and crooked teeth. Some dentists, like Dr. Mila Cohen, can treat these conditions without the aid of a specialist.
Benefits of Crooked Teeth Treatment
Abnormal conditions that affect the appearance of your child’s smile also affect the mouth’s functionality. Sometimes the upper and lower jaws don’t meet correctly, causing a misalignment called uneven bite or malocclusion. Untreated, this condition can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
When children undergo the treatment for problems like crowded, crooked or misaligned teeth, your New Jersey child dentist can deliver straighter teeth, a better smile and healthier gums and teeth. The cosmetic improvements also increase your children’s self-confidence, as well as their oral health. Successful treatment improves your kids’ speaking and chewing, corrects lisps and reduces earaches, headaches and other jaw disorders.
Treatment Options for Crooked Teeth
When you take your child to a dentist for crowded or crooked teeth — or a misaligned jaw, the dentist typically takes impressions of the teeth. In some cases, X-rays help determine the type of treatment needed. X-rays provide a look into the jaw below the gum line to see if other teeth are pushing through or creating pressure on the gums and teeth. Your dentist may also take digital pictures of your child’s face to examine the jaws, teeth and head to look for improper alignment and abnormalities.
Your dentist guides you in determining the best treatments for your child. There are many different appliances that correct the various abnormalities. Here are the most common treatments for crooked, crowded and misaligned teeth:
- Braces. The most common treatment for misaligned teeth, crooked teeth and spaced out teeth, braces force teeth to move over time. Sometimes, they’re used to stop teeth from drifting. There are fixed and removable braces. Fixed braces are worn all the time — only a New Jersey child dentist can remove them. Removable braces are available, but your child shouldn’t take them out repeatedly. Also, long-term removal should be avoided.
- Brackets. Essentially wires that attach to the teeth, brackets come in three different types: plastic, metal or ceramic. Brackets aren’t as noticeable as braces because they are placed on the back of the teeth. Ceramic brackets match the color of the teeth to help make them less noticeable.
- Aligners. These are an alternative to braces, but they’re clear and removable. Aligners are generally used for adults who have mild spacing problems. Aligners aren’t typically suited for children who have misaligned baby teeth.
- Space maintainers. Not as comprehensive as braces, space maintainers are more effective for children who lose baby teeth early, to maintain the space for the permanent tooth to come in.
- Palate expander. This is used to widen the upper arch inside the mouth. Usually, these devices are used only on children aged eight to 10 with a developing jaw.
Length of Corrective Treatment
The duration to full healing or correction depends on your child’s condition and your dentist’s treatment plan. The older your child is and the more drastic or complex the abnormality, the longer it may take for a full recovery.
While there are many factors, including age, condition, and genetics, on average, kids with full braces wear them for one to three years. After that, they usually wear a retainer to hold the teeth in place. Braces retainers are worn for about a year.