Saturday, January 26, 2013

Early Orthodontic Intervention

I often get questioned by parents in my practice asking why some children are treated with braces before all the adult teeth have come in. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children be evaluated for potential orthodontic problems no later than 7 years of age.

 All children develop differently and at different rates, but by the age of 7 a dentist can evaluate the upper and lower jaw growth, the bite (or way the teeth come together) and the emerging teeth to detect problems that can easily corrected with early orthodontic treatment. While your child’s teeth may appear straight at the time, there can be developmental problems occurring that will become more difficult to correct as the child continues to grow.

Early treatment allows the dentist to address developmental problems at an age where he can guide the growth of the upper and lower jaw. If treatment is started at a later age, it may not be possible to correct the developmental defect and will make the orthodontic treatment more complicated.

Early treatment allow for:
1. Guiding the growth or expanding the jaws
2. Lowering the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
3. Correcting harmful oral habits such as thumb sucking
4. Improved appearance
5. Straight teeth in the least amount of time
6. A correct profile

Problems to watch for in growing children include: early or late loss of baby teeth, difficulty chewing or biting food, mouth breathing, speech problems, biting the cheek or roof of the mouth, facial imbalance, grinding or clenching the teeth, bite problems (the teeth do not appear to come together correctly), crowding of the adult teeth, and adult teeth that appear to have come in sideways or backwards.

Once evaluated by the dentist, a treatment recommendation will be made. Every case is unique and many times treatment does not need to be started early.

I offer a no-cost consultation for orthodontic treatment at my office. If you have any concerns about your child’s teeth, please contact us to schedule an appointment by calling 281-579-7222.