Interceptive – Early Treatment Orthodontic
For Children- Early Treatment
Early interceptive orthodontic treatment usually starts before the eruption of the permanent teeth or when the child has very few permanent teeth present. The goal at our office is to guide the growth of the upper and/or lower jaw to make adequate space for the eruption of all the permanent teeth. We feel that children should be evaluated by the age of seven to see if there is a bone problem (orthopedic) or a tooth problem (orthodontic).
If the patient has a problem such as the upper jaw being too narrow, or an underdeveloped lower jaw, this will require a special appliance called a functional jaw orthopedic appliance to correct the problem. Minor tooth crowding can also be corrected early if it appears as though it may compromise the eruption of other permanent teeth.
It is always less expensive to correct a problem when the patient is younger rather than wait for the problem to become more serious in the future.
How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
- Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner or even at all
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
Other benefits of early treatment:
- Improve profiles, smiles and self-esteem
- Correct harmful habits, such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting. Functional appliances develop the arches and make more room for the tongue.
- Improved speech
- Reduction of the time in fixed braces and frequently eliminates the need for the extraction of permanent teeth
- Increases nasal breathing which improves health
- Eliminates airway constriction
- Creates beautiful broad smiles by developing the arches
- Eliminates grinding of the teeth at night
- Prevents headaches and earaches
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early prevention benefit my child?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
Functional habits include thumb sucking, mouth breathing or a tongue thrust habit which can contribute to the unfavorable growth of the jaws. Oral habits can commonly cause the upper front teeth to stick out and can contribute to speech problems. The best way to intercept a habit is to first make certain that the child has a proper size airway and can breathe through the nose. In cases where there are serious allergies, swollen adenoids or tonsils, a referral to an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist must be done.
After airway considerations are addressed an upper fixed habit- breaking appliance could be made to stop the oral habit. Most parents prefer the fixed appliances, which cannot be removed by the child. A tiny patient friendly crib at the front of the appliance helps to remind the patient not to place their tongue, finger of thumb in this area of the mouth. Active treatment usually takes 4 to 5 months. Then if an arch development appliance was used, the crib could be removed, and the child wears the appliance as a retainer for another 6 months to prevent a relapse.