When is the best time to begin orthodontics?
At Impressions orthodontics (calgary) we believe that... we can enhance a smile at any age. Though we can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to start treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if treated prior to the completion of growth. Early treatment may prevent the need for extraction of permanent teeth, surgery and other serious corrections later in life, but ongoing examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment. However, owing to the complex nature of orthodontics, early treatment may not be right for every child. Only after a clinical examination of your child can the proper treatment plan be determined.
Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
Age 7, is considered optimal because first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
What are the benefits of early treatment?
Early evaluation and treatment can yield many benefits, including the following:
- Creating facial symmetry by influencing positive jaw growth,
- Ability to regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches,
- Ability to gain space for permanent teeth,
- Avoid the need for extractions of permanent teeth,
- Decrease or eliminate the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth,
- Eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems,
- Creating space for crowded, erupting permanent teeth,
- Reducing or eliminating the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth,
- Correcting harmful oral habits, such as thumb sucking and tongue thrust,
- Preserving space for unerupted permanent teeth,
- Improving self-esteem and image.
In short, early treatment can simplify or sometimes eliminate later treatment.
What is Early Treatment?
Here is a list of common preventative early treatments that your orthodontist, Dr. Nizam, can provide for your child.
- Space Maintainers
- Early Extraction
- Thumb Sucking
- Early Straightening of Permanent Incisors
- Functional Jaw Orthopedics
Early loss of baby teeth sometimes requires a space maintainer. If a baby tooth is lost before the permanent tooth has had a chance to take its place, the space will close when other teeth drift into the space. Once the permanent tooth erupts, it's path will be out of alignment or it might not be able to erupt at all. A space maintainer is an orthodontic appliance that holds the space open so that the permanent tooth can erupt favourably. It is a simple device that can save your child many months of future orthodontic treatment.
Sometimes baby teeth do not fall out when they are supposed to. In fact, there are some cases when the baby tooth does not fall out naturally at all. This can happen when the permanent tooth is congenitally missing or growing in the wrong location and does not push out the baby tooth. In these cases it may be necessary to extract the baby tooth to allow for proper alignment of the permanent teeth.
When a healthy mouth bites down, the top teeth will fit outside of the bottom teeth. This is nature's way of helping you chew your food without chewing your cheeks and lips. Cross-bite is when the top teeth fit on the inside of the lower teeth. This can happen with the front teeth or the back teeth. We can fabricate one of several appliances that will be specific for your case and correct the problem. Usually, this means expanding the upper arch. If corrected early enough with an appliance, a jaw disharmony can be prevented.
Prolonged thumb or finger sucking can lead to adverse affects on the teeth and jaws. It may result in the upper front teeth to tip forward and even the upper jaw to move forward. Stopping the habit in time is important in preventing potentially serious overbite. We can fabricate an appliance that makes it nearly impossible for your child to suck their thumb or fingers.
Early Straightening of Permanent Incisors
Permanent front teeth can be straightened with braces at the ages of 8-10. Sometimes this is necessary if the child is being teased at school or it will help improve the child's appearance and in turn improve self-esteem. Remember, children want to look as normal as possible and sometimes gross discrepancies in tooth alignment can lead to insecurities that can otherwise be corrected. However, Dr. Nizam will need to evaluate each patient on a case-by-case basis, as braces are not appropriate for all young children.
Facemark is used to correct the way the upper and lower molars fit together and help decrease the disharmony in skeletal growth. Dr. Nizam does not feel it is appropriate to have children wear headgear to school because it is too intrusive with daily activity; she asks her patients to wear them at home and to sleep.