A parent looks at a child’s smile and sees baby teeth and perhaps issues with thumb sucking habits. Sometimes a child’s teeth erupt with a lot of spaces or the teeth erupt in a crooked pattern. What does this mean?
A gapped smile or crooked baby teeth is just one indication of dental health. An orthodontist is not only concerned with the health of the teeth and gums, but more importantly with the relationship and structure of the jaws. Does the growth pattern indicate sufficient development to allow for the permanent teeth waiting to erupt? Is the lower jaw too far out front of the upper jaw or vice versa indicating a need for growth modification?
What may the orthodontist see when an x-ray is reviewed? The orthodontist may see too many teeth (supernumerary) or too few teeth (congenitally missing) revealed by a Panoramic X-ray that shows all the teeth in both jaws in one view. The evaluation may reveal very large teeth about to erupt in a too narrow upper jaw or one or more teeth at a severe angle that may not erupt at all without treatment (impacted).
Your child’s smile reveals a great deal about future needs. Many times though, it’s what can’t be seen that requires professional guidance. A comprehensive orthodontic evaluation by 7 years old may indicate that your child exhibits normal growth patterns or exhibits issues that may best be addressed with early (interceptive) treatment.
As we do with patients in our Northern Virginia orthodontic practice, a conversation with your local orthodontist will reassure you that whether with required treatment or if no treatment is necessary, your child’s future smile is going to be great.