When bone growth is not in our favor, it is important to identify and treat these problems early. Misaligned jaws and certain issues that are seen in children may be early signs of poor airway or unfavorable growth. In early treatment, our focus is on getting bone growth and development on track.
The Initial Examination
We love seeing children at any age when parents or the general dentist believe there is a problem. We prefer to see children by age seven, but we are happy to see children of all ages – if nothing more than to meet them. In many instances, we will decide to monitor bone growth and development. If and when treatment is warranted, we review with the family if the child is ready and discuss what treatment is best for your child.
When Earlier Treatment Is Better
All adult teeth appear in the mouth usually between the ages of 10-13, however this can vary on the individual. By this age, the majority of bone growth is complete and we can successfully start moving teeth. However, in some case we are have lost the opportunity to take advantage of traditional bone growth and earlier treatment may have been beneficial. Early treatment is used for:
Crossbite: Severe cross bite is a condition where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. To treat this problem, a device called a palatal expander can be used, which gradually widens the upper jaw. It’s especially effective when the jaw itself hasn’t fully developed. If we wait too long, additional more extensive treatment may need to be considered to achieve the treatment goals.
Crowding: Severe crowding occurs when the jaws are too small to hold all of the permanent teeth that are present. Either palatal expansion or possibly removing a tooth tooth or two may be recommended at this point, to help deliver the adult teeth. In these situations, even if braces are not required until a later age, the treatment time will likely be shorter and less complicated.
Protruding teeth: Protruding teeth, especially in front, can be prone to chips and fractures; they may also lead to concerns with a child’s self-image. A severe under bite, caused by the lower jaw growing faster than the upper jaw, can result in serious bite problems. Usually, orthodontic appliances can successfully be used to correct these conditions, at this stage, when the child’s bone development is in full swing and avoid future treatment.
Correcting Bad Habits: At one time or another, anyone may pick up a bad habit. But there are some situations where a child’s habits can actually influence the development and function of the teeth, jaws and mouth. Some examples of these are persistent thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing.
Various orthodontic treatments are available to correct these conditions. The sooner they are addressed, the less likely are they to require future lengthy treatment. But these habits and potential growth concerns aren’t always easy to recognize. That’s one more reason why you should bring your child in for an early orthodontic screening.