Orthodontic treatment – aka braces – is typically perceived as a teenage process. It’s almost a rite of passage into adulthood, at least it was during the era of metal brackets and wires, bands, and headgear. Today, dentists like those in our McLean office understand the various ways in which orthodontic care can be improved. One of them is to intervene early, long before all permanent teeth grow in.
The first question about early orthodontic care that needs to be answered is “why?.” Why would we want to run interference with Mother Nature? It’s simple. When we do, the latter stage of care, the one in which braces are worn, is shorter and more straightforward.
What Early Orthodontic Checkups looks for:
There are several signs that a child may require orthodontic treatment during the teen years. These include:
- Difficulty chewing
- A protruding upper or lower jaw, or one that is set back
- Teeth are crowding due to a narrow palate
- Frequently biting the cheeks
- Imbalance in facial structure
- Bruxism (grinding and clenching)
Goals of Orthodontic Intervention
Aside from the end-goal of shortening the time a child will need to wear braces, there are smaller, focused goals which early intervention addresses. These include:
- Guiding the growth of the jaw
- Guiding the growth of permanent teeth into the developing jaw
- Decreasing the risk of trauma to front teeth that are protruding
- Correct unhealthy oral habits such as thumb-sucking
Early orthodontic care is tailored to individual need. One patient may need help with a crossbite, which could occur when the palate is too narrow. Overcrowding, as well, may be more easily corrected when the palate is expanded during the developmental stage. Space maintenance may also take place prior to the application of orthodontic fixtures. This may enable posterior teeth to grow in without crowding or impaction.