Albertville and Gadsden, Alabama
Early Intervention for Orthodontic Treatment
Early intervention with a child’s oral health is important when evaluating for potential orthodontic, orthotropic, airway or sleep apnea treatments, even though children may not have all their permanent teeth yet. There are many reasons early intervention for a child is important. Dental checkups at an early age allow the dentist the opportunity to discover overcrowding issues with your child’s teeth, bite problems, mouth-breathing, issues with facial growth, and cosmetic issues. The dentist can also evaluate symptoms such as snoring, teeth grinding, bed-wetting, ADD-like symptoms, and daytime hyperactivity, which are associated with airway problems that are directly linked to a child’s facial skeletal development. Early treatment of these issues can help your child avoid dental problems and overall health concerns as they grow into adults.
When it comes to orthodontic treatment, parents often wonder why early intervention is necessary. Why not just wait until high school and complete all treatment in one phase? Traditional methods of orthodontic treatment require treatment in two phases. The first stage of treatment focuses on the growth and alignment of their facial skeletal, known as Phase I Orthodontics. Then, the next phase begins in which the dentist focuses on the alignment of the child’s teeth. It is common for parents to feel as if they are over spending by not completing orthodontic treatment all at once, having wasted time and money. Dr. Renfoe does not recommend this method of orthodontic therapy unless there are attainable objectives in which the benefits far outweigh the hassle, time, and cost of treatment.
Isn’t Orthodontics just for Straightening Teeth?
In general, people tend to think of orthodontic treatment as simply straightening teeth. Although straight teeth are usually a benefit of orthodontic treatment, it usually isn’t the sole purpose of treatment. The way, in which a child’s natural anatomy is formed, could have a direct impact on their health later in life. For instance, when the jaws are not growing properly, or the formation of a child’s airway is not optimal, other health-related issues may arise. Issues such as irreversible cardiovascular damage, ADD or ADHD, altered social development, delayed language and phonological skills, or even lower IQ, could impact their lives as adults. Dr. Renfroe takes these issues seriously for all patients.
Mouth Posture and Its Role In Orthodontic Treatment
Our mouths have an ideal posture when at rest: lips pressed together, and teeth touching lightly while the tongue rests on the roof of the mouth. If this rest posture is not possible, due to improper facial or airway growth, this poses a concern that could cause issues for the child later in life. It is much easier to correct muscle function or tone at a young age while the child’s bones are still forming. Expanding the arch in the roof of a child’s mouth allows the muscles to adapt easily to the changes in the mouth, rather wait until adulthood when these changes occur much more slowly.
Structural Changes of the Face and Jaw
Orthodontic treatment early in life focuses on the structural and/or postural correction of a child’s mouth. This means changes in the size of their jaws and the direction in which the jawbone is growing. These changes happen much easier and quicker in children than in adults. Children also tend to adapt to these changes better than teenagers. Early intervention can help make treatment as a teenager, if necessary, more comfortable, simpler, and shorter treatment time.
Arch Development in a Child
The development of a child’s arch determines whether or not their teeth will be overcrowded. If space is made available for erupting teeth, it is less likely that the child will require extractions or jaw surgery. An appropriate sized arch means the permanent teeth helps avoid issues such as overcrowding, impacted teeth, or eruption of teeth in the wrong area of the gum tissue. When teeth erupt properly, there are fewer chances of damage to other teeth or roots of adjacent teeth. Early treatment helps identify these potential issues and allows the dentist the opportunity to address these concerns before they cause more serious issues with your child’s health.
Are Braces Necessary Twice in Life?
Yes! Sometimes a second phase of orthodontic treatment is necessary as a child ages. If nature has not already resulted in optimal tooth alignment, braces are sometimes needed again after all permanent teeth have erupted. Sometimes, correcting facial structure issues early on will result in straighter teeth in the long run. Usually, the necessity of braces for a second time will depend on how straight the parent or patient desires their teeth to be. However, it is far more important to focus on the expansion, postural, or structural changes during the early development years rather than focusing only on teeth alignment later. Addressing these structural deficiencies early in life will help prevent major dental issues down the road for your child.
Early Orthodontic Evaluations – Ages 3-4 are not too young!
Most parents would probably never believe early intervention for orthodontic treatment should begin around the ages of three or four years old. This does not mean your toddler will be sporting braces just yet. However, evaluations at this young age allow the dentist to determine the growth of your child’s face and mouth as well as how his or hers teeth are erupting. Early intervention helps avoid unnecessary extractions, more complicated treatment, surgery, tooth impactions or ectopic eruptions. Plus, allows for optimization of the airway, jaw, and facial growth. All of these are excellent reasons to place a priority on early treatment. To get started, call Wall Street Dentistry today and schedule a consultation for your child.