Growth and Development Issues

A Proactive Approach to Oral Health

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children should get an orthodontic check-up by age seven.

 As a parent, you may already be aware of some issues with your child’s teeth but even if you haven’t noticed anything wrong, an orthodontist may spot subtle problems.

 The recommendation could be to begin the first phase of treatment to keep the jaws and teeth aligned or recommend monitoring your child’s growth and development for a while and then begin treatment at a later date, if needed.

Early treatment is essential to keep more serious problems from developing or ensure treatment at a later age is shorter and less complicated.

Malocclusions or bad bites may benefit from early diagnosis and orthodontic treatment. Some of the problems to watch out for in children who are still growing and developing include:

  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb sucking
  • Protruding teeth
  • Grinding or clenching
  • Asthma
  • Constricted airways
  • Crowded teeth
  • A narrow or restricted palate
  • Jaws that are too far back or forward
  • Cheek biting or biting into the roof of the mouth
  • Unbalanced facial appearance
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Upper and lower teeth do not meet or meet in an abnormal way

Many patients will not actually need orthodontic treatment until they approach age 11 to 12.

However, early diagnosis and treatment, if necessary, can make all the difference in your child’s health and wellbeing.

As a parent, we all want what is best for our children’s health. If you notice any of the above problems please call Dr. Righellis and team today to determine if early treatment is necessary.

Common Growth and Development Issues in Children

Some of the above issues can actually have long-term consequences if left untreated, which can affect your child’s quality of life, overall health and future. Let’s address some of those in detail:

Mouth Breathing

While cute at a young age, mouth breathing is actually a complex health concern that can lead to issues such as sleep apnea, speech impediments, and improper facial growth.

Healthy breathing always occurs through a closed mouth, inhaling in and out through the nostrils.

While mouth breathing may not seem like a serious issue, it actually creates more health problems.

 For example, an open mouth can cause children to struggle with speech patterns and can lead to the development of a lisp.

Mouth breathing also impacts the child’s facial growth. For example, when a child breathes with an open mouth, he or she is much more likely to develop:

  • An elongated face
  • Less prominent cheekbones
  • Eyes that appear droopy
  • A narrow palate
  • A smaller lower jaw
  • Flatter facial features

Mouth breathing is also directly related to sleep apnea, obstructed airways, chronic fatigue, and an inability to focus at school.

And with the child’s mouth continually open, the soft tissues inside dry out causing chronic inflammation and increase tooth decay.

Obstructed Airways

Chronic airway obstruction is caused by an improper position of the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both. This can cause the soft tissues in the throat to collapse over the airway, which restricts oxygen to the body.


If you have a child with asthma then you know the high level of risks for this respiratory condition. However, asthma can also create significant changes to the oral and maxillofacial structures as well.

Constricted Palate

A constricted palate can easily lead to a cross bite. A cross bite is a severe malocclusion where one or more teeth have grown in reverse positions. This condition is difficult to treat once the child has stopped growing. Addressing the problem while the child is still developing allows a greater chance to expand the palate into a wider, more balanced shape. As a result of this treatment, the patient will experience proper jaw growth, correct sinus placement, and facial harmony.

Underdeveloped Lower Jaw

If your child appears to have a small chin and a deep overbite, an underdeveloped jaw could be the cause of it. When the lower jaw is retruded, the chances of developing TMJ disorder later in life increases significantly.

Early treatment by an orthodontist can align the lower jaw with the upper facial bones.

The Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment

The above orthodontic issues are generally much easier to correct if treated early. It can save your child a lifetime of health problems as well as invasive and costly dental procedures.

Early orthodontic treatment gives your orthodontist the best opportunity to:

  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Guide proper jaw growth
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Reduce the risk of injury to protruded teeth
  • Make the teeth, gums, lips, and face more aesthetically pleasing
  • Improve your self-esteem and confidence

Contact Our Oakland, CA Practice Today

At Righellis Orthodontics, our goal is to treat your children as if they were our own. Your child’s overall oral health is our utmost concern, and something our team keeps in mind when developing a personalized treatment plan.

 Contact or call Dr. Righellis today at 510-482-0600 to schedule a consultation where we can address all of your concerns.

Dr. Righellis & Dr. Ikeda
Meet Dr Righellis & Dr Ikeda
I don’t know how they do it – this is the best run medical office I have ever seen. Efficient, on time, exceptional service and everyone in the office is a pleasure.Claudia H.

Righellis & Associates

Orthodontics for Children and Adults

2220 Mountain Blvd.
Suite 204
Oakland, CA 94611

Office Hours

Monday - Thursday: 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Friday: On a limited basis – please call for availability