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Time for Braces? 7 Signs to Watch for in Your Child

Time for Braces? 7 Signs to Watch for in Your Child

As parents, we notice every giggle, every curious glance, and every smile. But we often overlook one crucial detail: our child’s oral health. Their smiles can melt our hearts. However, those same smiles can sometimes have underlying dental issues that need addressing.

Could braces be in my child’s future? If you’ve found yourself wondering this while watching your child grow, you’re not alone. In this article, we'll discuss seven common signs to look for that might indicate your child needs orthodontics.

But don’t worry. Our TenBrook team of experts is with you every step of the way. Please feel free to contact us with any questions after reading this article.

Sign 1: Crowded or Overlapping Teeth

Crowded teeth straightened in only 15 months

Have you ever tried to fit too many books on a shelf? Some books will get pushed out, while others overlap or get squeezed from all sides. Similarly, when there’s not enough space in your child’s jaw, their teeth can become crowded or overlap.

This not only affects the aesthetics of their smile. It can also pose problems for their overall dental health. Crowded teeth can be harder to clean. This can lead to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease. Overlapping teeth might cause discomfort or bite issues down the line.

If your child’s teeth seem too close or overlapping, it’s a good indicator that an orthodontic consultation might be beneficial.

Sign 2: Misaligned Bite

How an underbite looks

When the upper and lower jaws don’t meet correctly, they are like misaligned scissors. They won’t cut right. When left untreated, misaligned bites can lead to further complications.

Some common bite issues many parents notice in their kids are:

  • The overbite, where the upper front teeth significantly overlap the lower ones.
  • The underbite, where the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth.
  • The crossbite, where some upper teeth fit inside the lower ones.

A misaligned bite isn’t just about looks. It can affect speech, disrupt chewing, lead to uneven tooth wear, and cause jaw pain or headaches.

Early detection is critical. If something looks off when your child smiles or bites, it’s time for an orthodontist’s opinion.

Sign 3: Difficulty in Chewing or Biting

Imagine cutting thick bread with a blunt knife. It takes work. In the same way, misaligned teeth can make biting into an apple or properly chewing food a real challenge for your child. Teeth that don’t meet correctly can transform simple tasks into more significant efforts.

Watch them eat. Does your child avoid certain foods? Do they favor one side of their mouth? Such behaviors could hint at underlying dental discomfort. Over time, misalignment can cause uneven teeth wear and digestion troubles.

If you spot any signs, an orthodontic check-up is in order.

Sign 4: Frequent Mouth Breathing

Breathing seems simple. It’s instinctive. We naturally breathe through our noses, a mechanism crafted by nature for filtering and humidifying air. But what if your child frequently breathes through their mouth? Both during quiet moments and sleep? It might be more than just a quirky habit.

Mouth breathing can hint at limited space for the tongue or nasal passage obstructions. It has dental downsides: think dry mouth and a higher risk for cavities. Plus, it can influence facial growth, leading to elongated, narrower faces and less prominent cheekbones.

If your child is a frequent mouth-breather, an orthodontic consultation is a wise next step.

Sign 5: Thumb or Finger Sucking

Childhood has its comforts. For many kids, thumb-sucking provides that cozy refuge. While it’s a natural, self-soothing behavior, especially in toddlers, it’s important to note when it persists. Why?

Think of a piece of clay being shaped by a sculptor’s tools. Continuous pressure on teeth and the palate from a thumb can reshape a child’s mouth over time. The result? Protruding front teeth or a malformed roof of the mouth. These changes can impact speech, appearance, and even the bite. Notice it continuing past age five? It’s a flag to be aware of.

A chat with an orthodontist can guide you on whether intervention is needed and how to gently transition your child from the habit.

Sign 6: Gaps Between Teeth

Significant gaps between teeth

Space is a luxury in many scenarios. But in your child’s smile? Not always. While gaps between baby teeth are common and can sometimes be a sign of adequate space for incoming adult teeth, persisting gaps in older children might be a cause for attention.

Think of tiles on a floor – if they’re spaced too far apart, the design seems off. Similarly, significant gaps between permanent teeth can affect the alignment of the bite, potentially leading to issues like gum problems or uneven wear.

If your child’s gaps are more pronounced or you’re concerned about their development, an orthodontist can offer clarity and solutions.

Sign 7: Late or Early Loss of Baby Teeth

Life’s milestones have their timelines. A child’s first steps. Their first word. And, yes, the moment they lose their first baby tooth. It’s an exciting rite of passage, but the timing can be telling.

If baby teeth fall out too early due to accidents or decay, there might not be enough space left for the permanent teeth. They could come in crooked or misaligned. On the flip side, baby teeth that linger too long can also impede the proper growth of adult teeth, causing them to emerge in the wrong position.

Think of a parking lot where cars need specific spots. If a space is occupied, the next vehicle finds another space, even if it’s not ideal. This can often be the same for teeth.

Are you aware of any delays or premature aspects in your child’s oral development? An orthodontic review could be beneficial.


Being a parent is a beautiful journey. Among the most cherished moments is seeing your child's genuine happiness. However, sometimes that smile might need a little help to look its best.

If you have any concerns about your child's smile, please reach out to us! Our TenBrook team is ready to evaluate your child's oral health and answer any of your questions. Schedule a free consultation today and take the next step towards a healthier, happier smile for your child!

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