How Is Malocclusion in Children Treated?
Malocclusion indicates an abnormal development of the bite. There are various abnormal bite patterns determined by the alignment of the upper and the lower jaws. Other signs of an abnormal bite can be diastema, trema, speech and sound disorders, recurrent cavities, headaches, tooth eruption disorders etc.
Even though a child may have apparent symptoms of malocclusion, not every parent consults an orthodontist. The Clinic of Aesthetic Dentistry specialists encourage being attentive to the child’s teeth, not underestimating the problem, and consulting a doctor promptly.
About the Problem
Normal bite is the orthognathic type of jaw alignment. Typically, the teeth of the upper jaw overlap the bottom jaw by about one-third. Today, only 25-40% of the world’s population can impress with a correct bite. Most have an abnormal bite first diagnosed in childhood.
An incorrect bite requires correction, as it complicates the chewing process. In case of noticeable defects, it distorts facial features, leads to psychological issues and lower self-esteem during adolescence.
Today, more than 50% of young children require a pediatric dentist and orthodontist consultation. Almost 85% of children under 5 years old already needed treatment or tooth extraction. Contrary to the parents’ opinion, the malocclusion will be there; it will not “go away” on its own. In the future, the problems can only get worse, causing permanent teeth to crook.
A clear sign of malocclusion in children is overbite or underbite, and the other symptoms:
- crooked or crowded teeth;
- interdental spaces;
- difficulty in chewing;
- excessive production of saliva;
- significant deviations from the norm during teething (wrong time or order of teeth eruption);
- difficulty in breathing as a cold complication.
Respiratory disorders lead to the palate’s abnormality, noticeable defects in the pronunciation, development disorder of the maxillo-facial apparatus and speech organs. Further, there is a distortion of facial features, excessive masticatory muscle tension, for example, an adenoid face.
In adolescents, issues due to an unattractive smile, slurred speech, and bad breath can appear. Children can become more socially withdrawn, irritable, and shy. Crooked teeth can also be a reason for gastrointestinal disorder, and they can also injure the mucous membranes and cause stomatitis and mucositis.
Types of Malocclusion
If a normal bite ensures the perfect functioning of teeth, then malocclusion disrupts many natural processes. There is orthognathic (normal), progenic, prognathic, straight, and biprognathic occlusion. Each of them has its modifications:
- distal – characterized by maxillary advancement;
- mesial – malocclusion with signs of anterior mandibular positioning;
- overbite – with pathology, the upper teeth overlap the lower ones by more than 55-60%;
- crossbite – misalignment of the jaw arches;
- open – the upper and lower teeth in the front do not come together when biting (there are open anterior and lateral bites).
An orthodontist appointment should be scheduled to evaluate the diagnosis reliability. For early diagnosis of malocclusion in children, it is essential to undergo regular dental check-ups. It would be best if you start when the first teeth begin to erupt. Their crowded arrangement can complicate the growth of permanent teeth.
It is difficult to be guided only by visual assessment of children younger than 3-4 years old. However, during the check-up, the orthodontist will confirm or rule out the malocclusion. If there are problems, the doctor will suggest age-appropriate treatment.
What Is the Right Age for Children To Get Orthodontic Treatment?
The malocclusion should be corrected at the earliest time possible after being diagnosed. Given this, doctors offer age-appropriate methods:
- Orthodontic pacifiers or feeding nipples for infants; breastfeeding on time. It is essential to latch the baby onto the breast correctly. It is more about the prevention of dental anomalies.
- It is recommended to correct the malocclusion using special plates for 1-2-year-olds. The plates reduce the possibility of the underlying child malocclusion risks considering family history.
- Removable ortho plates, LM activators, or trainers can help correct the malocclusion in children from 3 to 5 and 7 years old. Orthodontic products help to correct teeth alignment, restore articulation, narrow or expand the jawbone.
- It is essential to convey the need to create the correct bite to children from 7 to 12 years old with elastic positioners, trainers, and various orthodontic appliances, for the treatment to be successful and entertaining. The designs are vivid and memorable, with interesting details. The patients should wear the appliances during the night or for 16-18 hours. Orthodontic appliances can be cemented on certain teeth, and then they work around the clock.
From 10-12 years old, it is recommended to wear permanent orthodontic devices – braces. The age criterion is taken as a basis and the teeth’ readiness and oral cavity for the fixed braces’ placement. Timely installation drastically shortens the treatment time. Children rarely need an extended retention period after braces have been removed. A positive result is achieved faster if the patient has been previously treated with removable appliances.
How to fix malocclusion in children?
Correction of malocclusion in children is a much faster process compared to adults. The flexibility of the bone structures and connective tissue ensures the normal position of the teeth in the row after 1-2 years of regular wearing of the structures. Before undergoing the procedure for correcting occlusion with braces, some preparatory measures are taken:
- treatment of cavities, gum disease in the context of dental prophylaxis;
- professional cleaning, plaque removal;
- enamel remineralization with oral care products containing fluoride or calcium;
- tooth extraction on medical indications.
Next, an orthodontic appliance is placed. The braces consist of a metal wire, the base plates fixed to each tooth, clasps, ligature, and auxiliary parts. The procedure for fixing braces is quite complicated and requires high qualifications from the orthodontist. The specialists of the Clinic of Aesthetic Dentistry have experience, and young patients are happy to undergo treatment of the most varied complexity.
Today, many methods are used to correct children’s malocclusion. Before the eruption of permanent teeth, myotherapy is recommended to strengthen the facial structures’ muscular-ligamentous apparatus. Daily gymnastics and speech therapy classes would help correct dyslalia.
In some cases, surgical treatment is necessary. The surgeon’s help is required in case of anomalies in the dentition and facial bones’ development. Only after this process, it possible to install orthodontic corrective appliances.
What Are the Braces Advantages over the Removable Appliances?
Teeth braces are considered a classic option for orthodontic treatment. They represent a rather complex design and are classified according to the type of attachment, material of manufacture, force level, and fixation place.
Aligners are plastic or durable silicone mouth guards that do not compromise aesthetics and are well tolerated by children. For the therapeutic effect, aligners need to be worn 14-20 hours a day. That is why products are worn only at night and continue to be worn for 1-2 hours a day.
Aligners are pretty aesthetic, but modern braces also look decent. Sapphire braces resemble a beautiful accessory. Unlike aligners, braces are more effective.
There are other benefits as well:
- reliability of fixation;
- high therapeutic results;
- the ability to correct the most challenging orthodontic problems;
- relatively short adaptation period.
The effectiveness of aligners is close to bracket systems’ action, but they are not recommended for complex dental pathologies. Aligners should be worn for a long time to achieve great results. Besides, teenagers may forget to put on mouthguards, and regularity is an essential aspect of successful therapy.
Classic braces always cope with orthodontic tasks. However, there are peculiarities and various aspects. When defects are minor, it is enough to wear removable appliances. Considering that the jaw tissues in children are elastic and pliable, you can start with aligners. If there is no effect after 3-6 months of treatment, doctors advise not to waste time and opt for radical correction.
Prevention of Malocclusion
Prevention of malocclusion includes proper pregnancy follow-up, no medication during pregnancy without a doctor’s consent. It is recommended to start breastfeeding immediately after birth to avoid infants’ malocclusion and choose quality pacifiers and feeding nipples in case of adapted milk formulas, the timely start of complementary feeding, and solid food introduction.
In the future, children need to instill the skills of high-quality oral hygiene, not to cultivate bad habits, for example, sucking fingers, gulping, biting nails, and objects. From 1.5 years old, children shall visit a dentist. 3-5-year olds should schedule an appointment with an orthodontist.