No-one tells us parents that upon birthing our glorious bundle of joy, that we must immediately start a savings account for their teeth dramas in later life.
But for parents facing costly braces (up to $14K - yup, ouch!) for their kids or even worse, serious jaw surgery, it would have been helpful to know.
BUT - here are 2 things that parents can do NOW, which can help avoid or minimise serious teeth / jaw related drama into the teen years and beyond...
1. Get your child's teeth, jaw and bite assessed by a qualified, recommended local Orthodontist (not just by a Dentist) around age 8 (we will explain why, read on!)
2. If you've missed the age 8 window, get girls checked around age 10 and boys before they are 12 by an Orthodontist (again, not just by a Dentist).
Who knew this!? We certainly didn't until we had an enlightening chat with Dr Kamal Ahmed, Specialist Orthodontist from Wollongong / Fairy Meadow from South Coast Smiles. It is also handy to note at this stage, that Dr Kamal offers a complimentary first orthodontic consult, CLICK HERE for details :)
Here, straight from the horses mouth (pardon the pun, Dr Kamal actually has a beautiful face and teeth to be proud of) is what every parent like us, needs to know when it comes to our child's teeth, jaw and bite development...
Dr Kamal Ahmed is dad of three himself and gets the endless parental juggle of time and finances, so he told us straight up (we have bulleted the key points for time poor parents to skim read):
- At age 8, Dr Kamal needs to rule out major jaw, teeth and bite related issues that can affects only 5% of kids - but needs urgent attention. The major issue being bottom jaw biting in front of the top. The window for any Orthodontist to fix this bite issue (without complex surgery) closes before age 10! Here is a before and after image so you know what to look for as a parent, but best to get your child checked anyway and as noted above, Dr Kamal offers a complimentary first consult.
BEFORE TREATMENT WITH BRACES
AFTER TREATMENT WITH BRACES
- At age 8 / 10 /12 Dr Kamal also looks for impacted teeth, which again are easier to treat and pull through at this tender age, than by age sixteen when it involves surgery and complicated, expensive braces treatment.
- Crooked Teeth between age 8-12 can and should be checked by an Orthodontist but is generally considered quite normal as the teeth jostle to find their place and this doesn't always need to be treated with plate or braces before age 12 - BUT it is the size of the jaw and type of bite of your child that your Orthodontist pays very close attention to. WHY? Jaw and bite related issues need immediate attention as the child is growing.
- Does your child have a small jaw? Again you probably can't tell but Dr Kamal can and it's a major red flag which needs immediate treatment. It can lead to not only crooked teeth (that is just an aesthetical issue really), but breathing and jaw pain issues in later life).
Growing a small jaw bone (if required in your child) has to happen as their jaw is growing between age 10-12. Girls tend to hit their growth spurt earlier at age 10 and boys around age 12, so this is why Dr Kamal likes to check girls teeth jaw and bite at age 10 and boys at age 12. Expanding a jaw can help with breathing issues related to narrow or small jaw bones, like sleep apnoea or snoring. A constricted top jaw can look like this and should be looked at early so it can be treated at the right time (timing depends on the exact problem).
BEFORE TREATMENT WITH AN EXPANDER
AFTER TREATMENT WITH AN EXPANDER
So parents, we get it, we don't ever want to overwhelm you with yet even more responsibility (hells teeth we have enough of that already!) but the moral of the story is...
Get your kids teeth checked by an Orthodontist at least twice between 8-12. Your dentist may be the best but they are not trained like an Orthodontist to pick up on issues that if left untreated, can be way more costly, painful and fuuuull on to fix up once they have finished growing...
Dr Kamal Ahmed's philosophies are:
- Always to check children young to rule out serious issues that need prompt treatment,
- To give the parent every treatment option (including wait and see if time could be a healer for wonky teeth),
- To treat the problem once and treat it well and then Dr Kamal will be delighted to check over your child at no cost to make sure their teeth, jaw and bite are developing as they should be.
It could just be the 15min appointment that saves you thousands and heartache further down the toothy track :)
Thanks to Dr Kamal Ahmed from South Coast Smiles for taking the time to chat to us teeth novices here at Parents Guide Illawarra and for sponsoring this article so more parents can be better informed!
To book in your child's COMPLIMENTARY Orthodontic consult with Dr Kamal CLICK HERE or call the South Coast Smiles team on (02) 4243 6111.