Among the signs indicating the need (or potential need) for orthodontics are:
Crowding of the teeth. An open bite (where there is a gap between the top and bottom teeth when the jaws are closed). This can sometimes be caused by a thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting habit.
Ectopic eruption (where an adult tooth protrudes from the gum over the baby tooth it is replacing.). An underbite (anterior cross-bite). This is when one jaw sticks out farther than the other.
Excessive protrusion of the upper front teeth
Deep overbite. This is when the lower jaw closes completely inside the upper, causing excessive overlap of the front teeth.
Posterior cross-bite. This is when the upper jaw closes inside the lower.
Parents and orthodontists also need to consider a child’s emotional readiness for braces, which can be uncomfortable and can require attention to diet, oral hygiene and maintenance. Children and parents need to be willing to put up with it all for the sake of the end result – a functional and beautiful smile.
Courtney Drake-McDonough is an associate editor at Colorado Parent, a Dominion Parenting Media publication.