The Benefits of Orthodontic Intervention and Treatment at an Early Age
When you hear the word “orthodontics” you most likely think of teenagers with braces. But did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children are seen for an orthodontic evaluation before the age of seven?
We see orthodontics not as a tooth treatment but a tool to aid in proper growth and development. Let’s explore why this early intervention is so essential, and the benefits it can have for your child both during childhood and into adulthood.
What are the benefits of an initial orthodontic evaluation for your child?
Until recently, widely practiced orthodontic treatment for children has focused on creating or maintaining space by removing permanent teeth to allow for the proper alignment of other teeth. This limited treatment can cause an essential window of time to address more significant problems to be missed.
While it solves one problem, this type of treatment often creates even more problems including bite collapse, overbites, increased tooth crowding, gum problems, and even challenges with the jaw joint. The aesthetics of patients’ faces can even be affected with the removal of permanent teeth and can become flattened in appearance with a narrower smile.
An examination as permanent teeth take the place of baby teeth is essential in preventing these problems. We begin evaluating and discussing possible challenges and solutions from as soon as we meet a patient, no matter how young. This exam gives your child’s dentist a wealth of information as their face and jaw are growing, and if a problem exists or if one is developing, your dentist will be able to advise you on whether treatment is recommended, when it should begin, how long it should last, and what form the treatment will take.
Conditions warranting early orthodontic intervention include cross-bites, permanent teeth erupting at an abnormal angle or in the wrong place, the lower jaw outgrowing the upper jaw, a severe overbite or overjet (the upper jaw extending beyond the lower jaw), and crowded teeth. There are specific benchmarks that indicate inadequate growth in addition to these warning signs, including a patient’s baby teeth touching like adult teeth instead of having space between each one, a very common but concerning sign. We also evaluate how the jawbones are growing from an early stage in all three dimensions (width side to side, height, and front to back).
Are braces used for early treatment?
Not all orthodontic treatment is accomplished with braces! Braces are often recommended to optimize tooth and jaw alignment after most or all of the permanent teeth are in. The goal of early treatment is to create a better environment for permanent teeth as they come in, so when a child has early treatment (while most baby teeth are still present), the specifics of that treatment vary based on the kind of issue that needs to be corrected.
Here at Peak Dental Health, early treatment varies greatly and is tailored to each patient’s unique case. In rare cases this could consist of the removal of a stubborn baby tooth so the succeeding permanent tooth arrives in its proper place. More frequently patients may need help with how to position their tongue when they swallow or might need intervention to stop a thumb-sucking habit, and both of these challenges can be treated with appliances. If a child’s upper jaw is too narrow and their permanent teeth don’t have room to come in, treatment could consist of a palate expander to widen the jaw.
Why early orthodontic treatment is different at Peak Dental Health.
Here at Peak Dental Health, early orthodontic intervention is centered around ensuring their future oral health and providing them with a smile that will remain healthy, beautiful, and functional into adulthood. Our team is trained to recognize a lack of proper growth and development at the earliest stages during your child’s cleanings and exams, and from myofunctional therapy to appliances and beyond, we have all the necessary tools and expertise to assure success. Once an issue is identified, we work closely with our patients and their families to plan a course of action that will enable them to grow into the best versions of themselves.
Ready to learn more?
If you have a child that you think could benefit from early orthodontic intervention, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to learn more or set up an appointment today.