BENEFITS OF KIDS GOING TO THE ORTHODONTIST’S
Diagnosis of any issues with the development of the teeth or jaw in your child can avoid more serious oral health problems in the future. Benefits of kids going to the orthodontist’s include early treatment to steer jaw and dental growth in the right direction so their adult teeth emerge properly.
The American Association of Orthodontists1 (AAO) says children need to have an orthodontic assessment before the age of seven when problems are likely to have become apparent. Early orthodontic treatment for kids – known as phase one or interceptive orthodontics – focuses on avoiding serious potential problems further down the line.
Children who get interceptive orthodontic therapy will usually need further orthodontic treatment – phase two orthodontics – later but it may well be simplified and shortened.
BENEFITS OF INTERCEPTIVE ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT
The first phase of orthodontic treatment is aimed at children aged six to 10. It’s important because baby teeth play a major role in reserving space for the adult teeth. The health of your child’s permanent teeth is directly influenced by the condition and positioning of the temporary teeth they replace.
The transition between baby teeth and permanent teeth is an ideal time for your youngster’s orthodontist to make any necessary adjustments – while their jaw is still growing and their teeth developing.
Interceptive orthodontic treatment typically entails devices like partial braces to guide the developing jaw bone and provide the right conditions for the permanent teeth as they emerge.
A palatal expander2 may also be fitted to widen the upper jaw to make more room for the adult teeth, so they grow in less crowded and more evenly spaced.
Key benefits of phase one orthodontics include:
- Addressing problems in the bite function.
- Rectifying crowding of teeth.
- Reducing the risk of tooth loss in the future by ensuring adequate room for adult teeth.
BENEFITS OF PHASE TWO ORTHODONTICS FOR TEENS
The second stage of orthodontic treatment for youngsters begins once all the adult teeth have emerged, usually by the age of 13.
It typically follows a one- or two-year resting period after interceptive therapy. During this time, your child’s mouth is pretty much left to develop on its own – the permanent teeth are more likely to emerge with fewer problems after phase one treatment.
Phase two treatment is probably the orthodontic therapy you’re more familiar with. It typically entails teens wearing braces, which are often used to correct crowding and issues with the front teeth.
Fifteen percent of youngsters in the U.S. aged 12 to 15 have protruding teeth, which makes it one of the most common problems treated by orthodontists.
If your youngster’s teeth are overcrowded, the problem can worsen with time, resulting in teeth that are significantly crooked. This can lead to a build-up of plaque, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum problems.
If the front teeth are crowded, they can generally be straightened with partial braces within three to six months.
TREATMENT FOR BITE PROBLEMS
Braces can also fix problems with your youngster’s bite function resulting from misaligned adult teeth or uneven jaw development. These issues include:
- Crossbite, when the upper teeth bite on the inside of the lower teeth.
- Overbite, when the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth.
- Open bite, when the lower and upper teeth don’t make proper contact.
- Underbite, when the upper jaw fails to grow forward.
SIGNS YOUR CHILD MAY NEED ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT
There are several signs that can help you to determine whether your youngster could benefit from going to the orthodontist’s. These include:
- Thumb-sucking after five years old.
- Loss of baby teeth before the age of five.
- Difficulties eating.
- Breathing through the mouth.
- Speech impairment.
- Teeth or jaw out of proportion with the rest of the face.
LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR HEALTHY TEETH FOR LIFE
Orthodontic treatment can improve the function and appearance of protruding, crooked or crowded teeth, and correct bite problems. Two-phase orthodontic treatment for youngsters paves the way for a healthy, fully-functional mouth in adulthood.
Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and less likely to harbor accumulations of harmful bacteria and plaque, and early intervention, if the jaw and dental arches are not positioned properly, can help to avoid more complex and lengthy treatment in the future.
A child’s jaw bones don’t harden until they reach their late teens. While these bones are still flexible, orthodontic therapy works faster than it does for adults.
BENEFITS FOR KIDS GOING TO AN ORTHODONTIST SPECIALIST
Orthodontics for kids3 requires a trained, experienced orthodontic specialist with the expertise to decide on the most appropriate course of treatment and the best time to start it.
If potential orthodontic issues are diagnosed in your child, treatment doesn’t necessarily have to start straight away. When deciding on the best treatment plan in consultation with your child’s orthodontist, be sure to raise any questions or concerns you may have so you can make an informed decision on the timing of treatment.
An orthodontic specialist can carry out an in-depth examination, including the use of digital imaging, to determine the condition of your youngster’s teeth and gums, and assess the development of the jaw.
Besides the health benefits of kids going to the orthodontist’s, it can also boost their self-esteem. The ability to show off a winning smile during social interaction plays an important role as teens progress toward adult maturity. Having healthy, straight teeth will enable your youngster to smile with confidence.
BRACES OR ALIGNERS?
Many teeth crowding and protrusion issues and bite problems in kids can be treated with standard fixed braces or removable, clear aligners such as Invisalign.
Conventional metal braces are often regarded as better for correcting severe overcrowding of teeth. Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces but have clear or tooth-colored brackets that make them less conspicuous.
Cutting-edge Invisalign aligners are practically invisible and have become the most popular removable brace. Your child’s orthodontist can help you to decide which is the best treatment option for your youngster.