Complications of Untreated Orthodontic Problems

Complications of
Untreated Orthodontic Problems

Orthodontics is a specialised branch of dentistry that aims to improve the alignment of the mouth and jaws. By fixing misaligned bites and overbites, it becomes easier to maintain good oral hygiene and enjoy eating. It is important to identify these dental issues early on, as doing so can greatly enhance the appearance of one's smile and ensure that their teeth remain healthy and strong throughout adulthood.

Early Orthodontic Assessment

An early orthodontic assessment is a proactive evaluation of a child's jaw and tooth development by an orthodontist, typically before all permanent teeth have erupted. The goal is to identify potential orthodontic problems early on and guide treatment if necessary.

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends an orthodontic assessment at age 7 when children have a mix of baby (primary) and permanent teeth, providing valuable information to the orthodontist.

During the first assessment, your orthodontist will inquire about your child's concerns and dental history. Subsequently, a thorough examination of your child’s teeth, mouth, jaws, and breathing will be conducted. If a problem exists or is developing, the orthodontist will recommend treatment, its start date, and estimate its duration.

Common Orthodontic Problems in Children

Parents are advised to take their children to the dentist regularly and keep an eye out for common orthodontic issues. Treatment is most effective when these problems are spotted early. If you notice any of the issues below, you should consult an orthodontist for a more accurate assessment.

  • Crowding: Insufficient space in the mouth leads to overlapping or twisted teeth, making it difficult to brush or floss effectively.
  • Spacing: Missing teeth, undersized teeth, or habits like thumb-sucking can cause gaps or spaces between teeth.
  • Overbite: The front teeth in the upper jaw protrude over the teeth in the lower jaw, creating a vertical overlap.
  • Underbite: The teeth in the lower jaw extend beyond the upper jaw teeth, causing a misalignment.
  • Open bite: The front teeth do not meet when the jaw is closed, leaving a gap between the upper and lower teeth.
  • Crossbite: The top teeth sit behind the bottom teeth when the jaw is closed, causing a lateral misalignment.
  • Protrusion: Either the upper jaw sticks out excessively or the lower jaw does not grow enough, resulting in protruding front teeth (buck teeth).
  • Impacted teeth: Teeth that are unable to emerge properly through the gums due to obstacles, often requiring intervention.
  • Ectopic teeth: Teeth that develop in abnormal positions, potentially causing alignment and functional issues.
  • Misplaced Midline: An off-centre bite arises when the central alignment of the upper front teeth does not correspond with the centre of the lower front teeth.

Many orthodontic issues are hereditary, but some may also result from accidents, early or late loss of baby teeth, or prolonged sucking of the thumb or fingers. Children with a very small space between their baby teeth are also at risk, as they may develop problems with malocclusion when their permanent teeth come in. This is because the permanent teeth are larger and require more space. To identify if your child has an orthodontic problem or is at risk of developing one, look out for these common signs:

  • Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth
  • Difficulty Chewing or Biting
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Jaws Shifting or Clicking
  • Cheek Biting
  • Facial Imbalance

Diagnosing Orthodontic Issues for Children

Your child's orthodontist can identify orthodontic issues through a comprehensive examination of their health history and physical condition. X-rays may be required to capture internal images of tissues, bones, and teeth, while specialised techniques such as cone-beam CT scanning can offer a three-dimensional perspective of dental structures, particularly beneficial in intricate cases. Additionally, tooth impressions, formed by pouring plaster into moulds, serve as valuable tools for assessing orthodontic problems.

Photographs of the patient's face and mouth are taken to document its initial state and monitor progress. This creates a visual record for treatment planning and patient education. Based on the examination, history, and imaging results, the orthodontist will present a diagnosis, discuss potential treatment options, and consider factors such as the problem's severity, the patient's age, and individual preferences.

Complications of Untreated Orthodontic Problems

Early intervention for children's orthodontic problems is crucial because of the key differences in jaw growth and development compared to adults. Here are some potential complications if your child’s orthodontic problems go untreated:

  • Problems eating or speaking
  • Teeth grinding
  • Early or late Loss of baby teeth
  • Mouth breathing
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Jaw joint problems

Importance of Early Orthodontic Assessment

Early orthodontic assessment in children is crucial for guiding dental development and jaw growth during their active years. This proactive approach prevents the need for permanent teeth extraction, reduces the risk of trauma to protruded upper front teeth, and corrects oral habits like thumb-sucking.

Furthermore, early treatment can eliminate the need for full-time braces later in life, saving time, effort, and costs. In essence, early evaluation allows for the timely identification and intervention of potential alignment issues or jaw irregularities.

Access to a Specialised Kids Dentist in Singapore

Getting early orthodontic assessments for your child in Singapore is a straightforward process. There are dental clinics for kids that offer assessments from general dentists to specialised orthodontists. These assessments typically include a thorough medical and dental history review, an oral examination, dental imaging, and impressions. This consultation serves as an excellent opportunity for you to ask questions and address any concerns you may have, whether they are about the treatment costs, its necessity, the advantages, and disadvantages of braces versus aligners, or potential complications.

Crooked teeth and misaligned bites may seem inevitable during a child's growth, but an early orthodontic assessment offers a proactive solution with long-lasting benefits. It goes beyond improving appearance; it prevents future issues, simplifies potential interventions, and ultimately gives your child the gift of a healthy, confident smile. So, schedule an early orthodontic assessment today to provide your child with a head start towards a healthy, radiant smile. They will appreciate it, both now and in the years to come.


  • Children - Mount Elizabeth Orthodontic Clinic. (n.d.). Mount Elizabeth Orthodontic Clinic.
  • Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children Singapore. (2023, July 29). TEETH @ TIONG BAHRU.
  • Grippaudo, C., Paolantonio, E. G., Luzzi, V., Manai, A., La Torre, G., & Polimeni, A. (2019). Orthodontic screening and treatment timing in preschoolers. Clinical and Experimental Dental Research, 5(1), 59–66.
  • Malocclusion in Children. (n.d.). Stanford Medicine Children’s Health.
  • Orthodontics for all people and ages – Children. (n.d.). Mount Elizabeth Orthodontic Clinic.
  • Types of orthodontic problems you should look out for in your kids - Australian Society of Orthodontists. (n.d.).
  • When should a child’s first orthodontic evaluation be scheduled? Hallgren Orthodontics. (2021, July 19).
For appointment or query, please call (65) 6836 9808 or fill up the form below.
We’ll get back to you within one business day.
Top Click to WhatsApp