What happens if my child never gets braces? | Sun Valley Pediatric Dentistry | Mesa, Avondale, Gilbert, AZ

It’s easy to think that orthodontists (dentists who specialize in tooth alignment) may be a bit overzealous in their recommendations that every minor misalignment must be corrected with braces, and that the high price tag should be paid for them.  Orthodontists correct what they call malocclusion, or bad bite. In the perfect mouth, the top front teeth extend over the lower teeth slightly, the molars meet and the teeth are straight.

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The most common malocclusion — affecting perhaps as many as 90 percent of children — is overcrowding, usually of the bottom teeth.  Sometimes, mild crowding doesn’t have to be addressed at all, and more severe crowding may improve on its own when your child’s jaw grows to its full adult size.

On the other hand, if your child has teeth that are crooked or overlapping, they will most likely stay that way, and those crooked teeth will be difficult for them to brush properly, and the areas that are not brushed and flossed properly are places where bacteria growth happens quickly.  Bacteria growth is the first step in gum disease taking hold.  Also, bites that need correcting will cause difficulty in biting or chewing as time goes on, and teeth that are not aligned correctly may wear the enamel more quickly, which exposes the teeth to more damage.

Ask your orthodontist exactly why he or she is suggesting braces. The chances are high it will be because of hygienic or cosmetic issues.