Pre-Orthodontics: A Smart Approach For Healthy Teeth
Children today tend to get braces at a much earlier age. It's not uncommon for a patient as young as 7 or earlier to begin orthodontic treatment.
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children receive an orthodontic screening by age permanent teeth generally begin to come in at age 6 or 7, and it is at this point in a child's oral development that orthodontic problems become apparent.
Because bones are still growing, it's an ideal time to evaluate a child and determine what orthodontic treatment, if any, may be needed either now or in the future.
Pre-Orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics, in which intervention begins before the child starts first grade. At this age, tooth development and jaw growth have not been completed, so certain conditions, like crowding, are easier to address.
Before permanent teeth have come in, it may be possible to help teeth to erupt (emerge through the gums) into the proper positions. It's common, for example, for the dental arch to be too small to accommodate all of the teeth. A few decades ago, the solution for crowding was to extract some of the adult teeth, then use fixed braces to position the teeth properly.
Early intervention takes advantage of the fact that a child's jaw is still growing. For example, a device called a palatal expander may be used to expand the child's upper arch. Once the arch is the proper size, there's a better chance that the adult teeth will emerge naturally where they should. If all teeth have erupted and there is still a great deal of crowding, some permanent teeth may have to be extracted to align the teeth properly.
Pre-orthodontic care can be thought of as “setting the stage” for the eventual orthodontic treatment. Individuals that receive pre-orthodontic treatment tend to
1. Be in braces a shorter period of time
2. Have cheaper orthodontic expenses
3. Avoid the need for braces altogether in some instances
This early care also allows us to document a child’s facial growth pattern to establish a blueprint for future orthodontic care. The orthodontist considers this information vital to their future treatment, as the established growth pattern allows them to formulate their recommendations. Without such information, the orthodontist is often relying on their instinct to determine exactly how a child is growing.
This approach to orthodontic care has proven to be an extremely cost-effective and time saving for our patients.
This care is actually incorporated into your child’s regular dental check-ups. You can anticipate that an attending dentist will begin discussing your child’s spacing around the time the permanent teeth begin to erupt and at every visit thereafter until we recommend visiting the orthodontist.
To discuss our pre-orthodontic approach for your teen or to ask any other questions, please contact us immediately at 513-923-1215 or fill out the appointment request form to schedule now.