Recognizing and Treating a Child’s Orthodontic Issues

As a parent, you likely notice right away if your child is ever uncomfortable or in pain. If he or she has been complaining about pain or discomfort when eating, talking, or yawning, they might have a problem with their jaw. Jaw pain is fairly common in both children and adults, but while there are several possible causes, younger patients often experience jaw pain due to a misaligned bite. The good news is that an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Jonathan Johnson can help you with recognizing and treating issues related to your child’s orthodontic issues! 

At Johnson Orthodontics, we treat many children for misaligned jaws (also known as malocclusions). Correcting a misaligned bite can prevent and eliminate jaw pain.  It can also be beneficial in many other ways, including:

  • a reduced risk of tooth decay and cavities
  • improved speech
  • a reduced risk of chipped or lost teeth
  • improved oral function 
  • increased self-confidence
  • an easier time eating, sleeping, and breathing

Whether your child has been exhibiting symptoms of a misaligned jaw, or it’s simply time to schedule their first orthodontic visit, we’d love to meet you both. During their initial examination, Dr. Johnson will evaluate your child’s teeth, jaws, and bite, and check for several common orthodontic conditions. Many parents find it helpful to understand what some of these common issues are and how they can be corrected, so keep reading below to learn more.

Crowded teeth

Good dental hygiene is essential for maintaining oral health, but crowded teeth can hinder effective brushing and flossing. For this reason, children with crooked teeth can be at a higher risk of developing tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems. Orthodontic treatment can address this by moving and aligning their teeth to free up space in their smile.

Gapped teeth

Gaps in teeth are very common in childhood and can occur for a variety of reasons such as genetics, thumb sucking, and extended use of a bottle or pacifier. If your child has a bit too much space between their teeth, our expert team will be able to identify and address any underlying causes.

Missing teeth

Some children have a noticeable gap in their smile resulting from congenitally missing teeth that never grew. Others may have lost permanent teeth due to injury or disease. Patients with missing teeth benefit from orthodontic appliances such as braces, which move the existing teeth into the proper positions. A dentist can then later place a bonded bridge or implant to fill any gap formed from the missing tooth.

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 bite cases come from extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth to grow into a noticeably rounded formation.

Recognizing and Treating a Child’s Orthodontic Issues

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. Of all the bite disorders, a deep overbite is the most detrimental to the teeth and health of the jaw joints, and can even affect the shape and appearance of a child’s face.


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 even wear down some of the front teeth, causing a great deal of discomfort and pain.  


Commonly known as “buck teeth,” overjets occur when the top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. It’s most effectively treated when diagnosed early, as we can use your child’s growth to our advantage and guide the eruption of the teeth.

Treating a child’s misaligned jaw

Because every child’s bite is different, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to treating their smile. Instead, Dr. Johonson creates personalized treatment plans for every patient to ensure the best outcome for your child. This plan may include one or more orthodontic appliances, something we’ll discuss with you in detail during your child’s consultation. Our practice offers many comfortable and effective treatment options, including: 

Metal braces

Metal braces are one of the most recognizable symbols of orthodontics and the most common type of treatment. The brackets are made of a mix of stainless steel and other high-quality metals, making them very durable and long-lasting. 

Modern metal braces are also much more comfortable and lighter than they used to be. They deliver excellent results and can be especially useful in cases that are more severe or complicated.

Ceramic braces

Also known as clear braces, ceramic braces work in the same way metal braces do but have the added benefit of semi-translucent brackets. While ceramic braces are about the same size and shape as metal braces, they’re able to better blend in with a patient’s natural smile for a more subtle straightening option. This is especially true when they’re paired with clear, white, or tooth-colored wires and elastic ties. 

Though ceramic braces are strong, metal braces can tolerate more pressure and may be a better option for younger patients.

Invisalign clear aligners

Instead of brackets and wires, the Invisalign system uses a series of clear removable aligners to move teeth into the desired positions over time. This is accomplished by wearing them 20-22 hours per day and replacing them every 1-2 weeks for the next aligner in the system. 

Invisalign offers patients a bit more freedom and flexibility than other treatment options do, thanks to the removability of the aligners. This means no food restrictions and an easier time brushing and flossing. 

Recognizing and Treating a Child’s Orthodontic Issues

Give your child a lifetime of smiles with Johnson Orthodontics

To help catch malocclusions and other problems early on, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have an orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re about seven years old. By this age, an experienced orthodontist can ensure that their teeth, jaw, and bite are developing properly.

Orthodontic treatment is an investment of both your time and finances, and your child’s smile will reap the rewards for many years to come. Correcting their bite will have a positive impact on their life by improving their overall oral health, reducing any discomfort they may be experiencing, and boosting their self-esteem. 

Our family-friendly, conveniently-located Rehoboth Beach office means it’s never been easier for your child to achieve a happy and healthy smile. If you’d like to learn more about how Dr. Johnson can identify and treat jaw pain in your child, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation