Orthodontic treatment is used primarily to stop and correct bite irregularities. The factors that may contribute to these irregularities are: early loss of primary (baby) teeth, damaging oral habits such as thumb sucking, genetic factors, and developmental problems.
Orthodontic problems may be present at birth or they may develop in early childhood. Dr Yash can evaluate orthodontic irregularities and implement early intervention strategies if necessary. An initial orthodontic evaluation should by performed by the age of eight.
Why would a child need early orthodontic treatment?
If a child has minor orthodontic problems Dr Yash may decide to monitor the situation over time without providing treatment. But if a child displays severe orthodontic irregularities there are many benefits to treatment:
- Reduced chance of childhood tooth decay and periodontal disease
- Increased chance of proper jaw growth
- Increased chance of properly spaced, straight adult teeth
- Better self-confidence and appearance
- Decreased chance of teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Decreased chance of impacted adult teeth
- Decreased chance of speech problems
- Decreased chance of tooth, gum, and jawbone injury
- Reduced orthodontic treatments in later years
Crooked teeth make good dental homecare more difficult and hamper self-esteem, and can harbor bacteria that can cause decay and gum problems.
When can a child begin orthodontic treatment?
There are three age-related stages of orthodontic treatment:
Stage One: Early Treatment (2 – 6 years old)
The goal of early treatment is to provide adequate space for permanent teeth to come in correctly by controlling the width of the upper and lower dental arches. Good candidates for early treatment are children who lose their primary teeth early, children who have a problem with their bite, children whose jaws grind or click when opened, teeth grinders, and children who breathe only through their mouth (as opposed to breathing through BOTH the nose and the mouth).
Early treatment involves the dentist working with the parents and child to eliminate harmful habits like thumb sucking and excessive pacifier use. A variety of dental appliances can be used to hold space for adult teeth (space maintainers), promote jaw growth, or to keep the teeth from shifting.
Stage Two: Middle dentition (6 – 12 years old)
The goals of orthodontic treatment at this stage are to start the process of gently straightening crooked permanent teeth, to start to correct crossbites, and to correct the alignment of misaligned jaws. During the developmental period of middle dentition the soft and hard tissues are very pliable and therefore is an optimal time to begin to correct misalignment.
This stage may involve the use of a dental appliance; braces are fixed but other appliances are removable. Regardless of the appliance used, the child will be able to eat and speak normally. However, children who have braces will need to be extra careful to clean the entire oral region every day so that the risk of decay, staining, and later cosmetic damage is reduced.
Stage Three: Adolescent dentition (13+ years old)
This is what most people think of when they think of orthodontics. The main goals of this stage are straightening the permanent teeth and improving their esthetic appearance. Usually during this period the adolescent will have either fixed or removable braces to gradually straighten the teeth. After the teeth have been moved into place it is likely that a retainer will need to be worn in order to prevent the teeth from moving back to their original alignment.
Dr Yash can provide references to a pediatric orthodontist. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s need for orthodontic treatment, please call or contact our office.