Early Orthodontic Treatment
From Your Glenview & Chicago, IL Kid's Orthodontist
At Yummy Dental & Orthodontics for Kids, our mission is to help every one of our patients develop a beautiful, healthy smile that'll last them the rest of their lives. That's why our doctors and highly trained team work hard to get to know every patient individually, taking a holistic approach to treatment that enables them to create a beautiful smile over the long-term. And often times, that means starting early!
While braces can correct healthy teeth at any stage of life, for kids, starting early is better than waiting - in fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have their first evaluation by age 7. So, why start orthodontics this early?
For starters, most children have established their back bite by age six. This is when a child's first set of adult molars begin to emerge and take root in the child's mouth. With these teeth in place, we can evaluate the front to back and side-to-side relationships of the teeth, helping us detect any current problems or any that may develop down the line. If we do see problems, we can either start treatment immediately, or wait, watch, and find the best time to take action.
Sooner Treatment is Better With Early Onset Issues
Typically, we start treating children for orthodontic problems around ages 9-14. By this age, all the baby teeth have fallen out and most of the permanent teeth are in place - but for some conditions, it's better to start earlier. This lets us take advantage of the natural growth spurts that a child experiences earlier in their lives.
One is severe problem seen in younger patients is a crossbite, a condition where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. We can use a device called a palatal expander to gradually and painlessly widen the upper jaw - actually creating more space for teeth! Without this widening, the patient may need more intense procedures like oral surgery to correct the problem later on.
Another condition that can absolutely benefit from early orthodontic treatment is severe dental crowding. Crowding occurs when the jaws are too small to accommodate all the teeth, and an overlap, or improper direction of the teeth happen as a result. At Yummy Dental & Orthodontics For Kids, we use palatal expansion or tooth extraction as a recommended treatment to help your child's adult teeth erupt, and in turn, emerge from below the gums properly. Even if braces are to be required later, the treatment time will likely be shorter.
Early intervention may also be helpful in resolving several other problems. Protruding teeth, especially in front, can be prone to chipping and fractures; they may also lead to problems with a child's self-image. A severe underbite, caused by the lower jaw growing much larger than the upper jaw, can result in serious bite problems. Orthodontic appliances, including braces and headgear, can be successfully used to correct these problems at this stage, when the child's development is in full swing, thereby increasing the chances that surgery can be avoided.
Correcting Bad Habits
Thumb sucking is a natural part of early childhood - few images are as comforting and cute as an infant sucking its thumb as it sleeps. If this habit persists past age 4, though, it can have serious effects on dental development. Prolonged thumb sucking can actually cause the teeth to move apart and the jaws to change shape, leaving an "open bite" and impairing speech. Tongue thrusting can also compound this problem. Mouth breathing, where the child breaths through the mouth and the jaws always remain open, can cause underdevelopment in the muscles and cause the jaws to grow abnormally.
All of these habits can be dangerous, but they can all be treated through orthodontics - and the sooner they're addressed, the better. It may be difficult for a parent to even notice some of these issues. That's why we recommend that you bring your child in for an initial evaluation around their 7th birthday. This gives them the best chance at a beautiful, healthy smile that'll last them a lifetime!
Contact Your Glenview & Chicago, IL Pediatric Dentist
Have more questions about your or your child's dental or orthodontic health? We can help with that! Feel free to reach out to us at our contact page with questions or use our easy online form to schedule an appointment at our Glenview or Chicago, IL office. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to meeting your child at their first visit!
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