Recognizing and Treating Your Child’s Orthodontic Issues

Here at Dudley Smiles, we hear from parents who want to know how they can tell if their child will need orthodontic treatment all the time! Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question, since there are many factors that have to be taken into consideration. These include the child’s age, the way their teeth and jaws are aligned, how their dental development is coming along, and the desired results. Recognizing and treating your child’s orthodontic issues is the best way to give them a lifetime of healthy smiles!

One way to address all of these factors is an early orthodontic evaluation, which the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child have by the time they’re about seven years olds. At this age, most children in Issaquah and Kent will have enough dental landmarks in place that their teeth, jaw, and bite can be assessed for normal development. 

There are several common issues that Dr. Dudley will be looking for during this initial evaluation. It can be helpful for us to outline these so parents better understand how these oral challenges can be successfully corrected with treatment. Recognizing and treating your child’s orthodontic issues is the first step to a stunning smile. Let’s take a closer look at some of the problems we see most often in our young patients! 

Missing teeth

Gaps between the teeth can exist because of congenitally missing teeth that never grew in, or they may be created when permanent teeth are lost due to injury or disease. If this is something your child has experienced, we can use braces to move the existing teeth into the proper positions. Bonded bridges will then be placed where the missing teeth would have been. This achieves an evenly-spaced smile for your child that looks good and functions the way it should. 

Crowded teeth

Healthy teeth and gums are essential to good oral health, but crooked teeth can be harder to brush and floss. This increases the chance of tooth decay and cavities. If your child has crowded teeth, we can move them into better positions in small increments over time. This will result in a smile that’s easier to clean, and can also lessen facial tension. Treatment can relieve chewing and speech difficulties, too.

Gapped teeth

Gaps in teeth are very common, especially in children. They can happen for a variety of reasons, from genetics to bad oral habits like thumb sucking and extended pacifier use. If your child has a bit too much space between their teeth, Dr. Dudley will identify the underlying cause and create a personalized treatment plan to close the gaps. This will improve the overall appearance and function of your child’s smile.

Open bite

With an open bite, the upper and lower rows of the front teeth don’t touch or close when smiling or chewing. Many open bites come from extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth to grow into a noticeably rounded formation.

At Dudley Smiles, we’ll usually treat an open bite with a combination of braces and an orthodontic appliance known as a “crib.” This device prevents the tongue from putting pressure against the anterior teeth when swallowing, which trains it to swallow correctly. Following treatment, your child’s bite will be aligned. They’ll be able to close their teeth and enjoy all their favorite foods with ease. 


Deep overbite

When a child has a deep overbite, the lower teeth recede so far behind the upper teeth that they bite into the roof of the mouth. The upper front teeth also overlap the lower front teeth. Out of all the bite disorders, a deep overbite is the most detrimental to the teeth and health of the jaw joints. It can also have an impact on your child’s face shape and appearance.

Treatment for a deep overbite may require a combination of orthodontics and restorative dentistry or orthodontics alone may be enough to correct it. This will depend on the severity of the case. Correcting a deep bite misalignment like this will improve the functionality of your child’s teeth and dramatically improve the appearance of their smile!


If a child has an overjet, their top front teeth will protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. This is often referred to as “buck teeth,” and treatment is most effective when the child is diagnosed early because it gives us a chance to guide the tooth eruption and use that growth to our advantage. The child’s age and specific needs will determine what treatment approach we take, but options will usually include:

  • bite correction devices
  • traditional braces
  • removable orthodontic appliances
  • tooth removal
  • surgery

Once Dr. Dudley decides on the correct treatment for your child’s overjet, they’ll be left with a beautifully balanced smile after it’s completed.


An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause pain at the jaw joint and the angled pressure can wear down some of the teeth. There are several treatment options available for children with underbites. These include:

  • an upper jaw expander, which can be widened nightly until treatment is complete
  • a reverse-pull face mask, which wraps around the head and attaches to metal bands on the back upper teeth to pull the upper jaw forward
  • traditional braces to adjust the misaligned teeth

These treatments will help relieve any pain and discomfort caused by the underbite, and can also make it easier to smile, eat, and even breathe more effectively. 


Give your child’s smile the best start at Dudley Smiles

Here at Dudley Smiles, we’re committed to providing personalized care for every child we treat. After your child’s evaluation, Dr. Dudley\ will create a treatment plan based on their unique smile needs and the desired results. A healthy smile starts with recognizing and treating your child’s orthodontic issues. Our goal is to give every patient – and parent! –  a rewarding and stress-free experience, from their first appointment to the last! 

Have you been wondering if your child would benefit from orthodontic care? Our team would love to meet you both and take a look at how their smile is developing so far! If you’re in Issaquah or Kent and would like to know more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Dudley. Whatever your child needs, we’ll give them the best start towards a lifetime of healthy smiles.