Orthodontics and Children- Early Orthodontics
At what age should my child first see an Orthodontist?
Orthodontist recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7.
Why screen by age 7?
The posterior occlusion (bite) is established when the first 6-year permanent molars erupt. At that time, one can evaluate the 3 dimensional relationships of the occlusion, as well as discover any abnormal shifting of the lower jaw during function. Incisors will begin to erupt and problems can be detected such as crowding, adverse habits, overbites, openbites, and some facial asymmetries. When treatment is necessary, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaws and guide the erupting permanent teeth. For some, a timely screening will lead to significant treatment benefits; for some, an immediate benefit is a parent’s peace of mind.
What are the benefits of early treatment?
For those patients who have clear indications for early intervention, early treatment presents the opportunity to:
- Lower risk of trauma to protruded upper incisors.
- Influence jaw growth in a positive manner
- Harmonize width of the dental arches
- Improve eruption patterns of permanent teeth
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Improve esthetics and self-esteem
- Simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later corrective orthodontics
- Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
- Improve some speech problems
- Preserve or gain space for erupting permanent teeth
Early treatment can simplify later treatment
Functional appliances are used before fixed appliances, in cases where there are growth related problems of the jaws. They are removable/fixed appliances that work by posturing the lower jaw forward and in doing so reducing the gap between the top and bottom teeth. Treatment time takes about 6-9 months, depending on how well they are worn and fixed appliances are usually used after this to align the teeth. This treatment is best carried out when the patient is young going through the growth phase so that jaw growth can be stimulated to help reduce the prominence of the upper teeth. Myofunctional appliance holds the lower jaw forward and guides eruption of the teeth into a more desirable bite while helping the upper and lower jaws to grow in proportion with each other. Patient compliance in wearing this appliance is essential for successful improvement.
When do you give this appliance?
If a child has got small lower jaw giving him an appearance of bird face, a custom fabricated removable myofunctional appliance called an activator or a twin block can be given to child to wear on teeth and jaws, which delivers natural, mild and painless forces to the growing lower jaw through jaw muscles to make it grow more and in proportion to the upper jaw. These appliances are given to young children when they have jaw problems along with the teeth problems.
Palatal Expansion Appliance with Face Mask
A child’s upper jaw may also be too narrow for the upper teeth to fit properly with the lower teeth (a cross bite) along with lower jaw forwardly positioned, this appliance helps in correction of the jaw problem.