It’s all very exciting for children and parents when the first baby tooth is lost and the adult teeth start making an appearance.
It can also be concerning if things don’t look quite right.
For most children, the front teeth come through with no problems. But sometimes things don’t quite go to plan…which is when your dentist might suggest a quick trip to see your orthodontist.
What is ‘normal’?
The lower front baby teeth are usually lost first, with the adult teeth coming through at around 6.5 to 7 years of age. Then the upper front teeth come through at around 7 to 8 years.
But there is quite a variation. Some children are several months later, some earlier. Boys tend to be a bit later than girls.
Dentists are more interested in the sequence that the teeth come through rather than the actual timings themselves.
If the order of eruption is not right, that’s when your dentist might be concerned that something is going on.
So what can go wrong when adult front teeth start growing?
Teeth not coming through
If a tooth on one side has come through the gum, the corresponding one on the other side should be coming through within 6 months.
If that’s not the case, your dentist may take an x-ray to find out what is happening. Sometimes extra teeth in the gum can prevent adult teeth coming thorough ( they are called “supernumeraries”… difficult to both say and spell!).
Or the adult teeth may be growing at a weird angle, or may be a funny shape. All of these may require an orthodontic referral for further investigation.
There can often be a space between the upper front teeth when they first come through. It is quite common for this to close up as the rest of the teeth come down.
So quite often your dentist may not want to refer your child to the orthodontist until a few years later.
The upper teeth sometimes grow behind the front teeth instead of in front.
This is called a “crossbite”. If your dentist thinks this is causing a problem, he may refer for an orthodontic opinion to see if any early treatment is needed.
Sometimes it is better to leave crossbites at this stage, and to correct them with braces when children are teenagers.
Many children’s teeth come through twisted and/ or tilted. If this is the only problem, it is likely that this will be treated later in the teenage years with fixed train track braces.
Sticking out teeth
This is common and a cause of anxiety for parents, especially if children are teased at school.
Sometimes this can be corrected with “functional braces”. You can read more about functional braces here.
These are common too. White spots on teeth can range from just a few flecks to very noticeable white patches.
There are many causes…you can read more about white spots here.
Your dentist will be able to advise whether there are treatments available and at what age it is best to try them. Often it may be better to wait until your child is in the later teenage years and has completed any orthodontic treatment.
What should parents do if concerned?
Regular checks to your family dentist are essential so that he or she can check not only your child’s general dental health but also the way that the adult teeth are coming through.
Dentists are trained to know when to just keep things under observation and when a referral to a specialist orthodontist is needed.
And if a referral to an orthodontist is made, it may be decided that nothing should be done at that stage, and that any problems can be corrected with braces a few years later.
About Cleveland Orthodontics
Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.
We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.