Often habits such as prolonged thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and certain swallowing or breathing patterns that can open or distort the bite are better dealt with when care is initiated at a younger age. Interceptive treatment is also helpful when the top jaw is too narrow, not developing in harmony with the lower jaw, or permanent top teeth are behind the lower ones when biting down. Likewise, if a young child’s front teeth stick out excessively or very severe crowding is present a first phase of orthodontic care can be beneficial.
The objectives of interceptive treatment or a first phase of orthodontic care are to influence jaw growth, create more space for crowded teeth, help to correct harmful habits, and improve facial esthetics. With interceptive treatment the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth as well as the need for extractions of permanent teeth can be lessened. Interceptive treatment can also simplify the next phase of orthodontic care.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have a check up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. At this visit the orthodontist will carefully examine your child’s bite and assess the alignment and development of the teeth. The orthodontist will also look at the growth and relationships of the jaws, and in particular check for any shifts or dysfunction. It will also be determined if any premature tooth loss, habits, swallowing or breathing patterns are having an effect on your child’s occlusion.
Following this visit the orthodontist will indicate if any immediate preventative or interceptive orthodontic care is needed. In many circumstances no treatment is required right away and the child can be observed until it is the appropriate time for care. Your child’s dental development as well as their prospective facial growth will be carefully considered in outlining the best timetable for care.
Orthodontic treatment for children typically begins between the ages of 9 and 14. Oftentimes it is helpful to start orthodontic treatment before all the baby teeth are lost. The benefit of placing braces at this stage is that the orthodontist can improve the alignment of permanent front teeth, guide the incoming new adult teeth into position, and utilize the child’s growth and development to best advantage.
Greater than half of all orthodontic patients are teenagers between the ages of 12 to 17 years. At this stage of development most of their permanent teeth, with the exception of the wisdom teeth, have already erupted into place. Any problems with the alignment of the teeth, issues with the bite, as well as discrepancies in jaw relationships are readily detectable at this time, making your teen an excellent candidate for orthodontic care.
The teenage years are typically a time of significant physical and emotional development. In addition to acquiring a more adult appearance, teens are developing a heightened sense of self-awareness, building self-confidence, and investing more in peer relationships. Having teeth that are crooked, gapped, crowded, or protruding can have a negative impact on their self-image as well as their self-esteem. In addition to that, malocclusions can predispose teens to TMJ issues, headaches, and dental disease.
Helping your child or teen to achieve a well aligned, more pleasing, and healthier smile means making a commitment to orthodontic care. Although orthodontic treatment involves wearing some type of appliances and takes time, the ultimate reward of a beautiful smile is well worth the effort.
The good news is that, thanks to advances in modern orthodontics today’s image conscious teens can choose from a wide selection of braces that are far less bulky, much less noticeable, and more comfortable than ever before. Other than traditional metal braces, we also offer clear/tooth-colored braces, and removable clear aligners that makes orthodontic treatment virtually invisible.