Braces For Kids
Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why might my child need early treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long run?
These are just a few of the questions surrounding the topic of early orthodontic treatment for children. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven. At this point the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment.
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future.
How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
- Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner or even at all
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child’s smile.
What is the advantage of two-phase orthodontic treatment?
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process that combines tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, and aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your child’s life.
What if treatment is put off?
Putting off treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may not completely fix your child’s smile. Early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results.
A Foundation for a Lifetime of Beautiful Smiles
The goal of Phase One treatment is to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper jaw that is growing too much or is too narrow can be recognized at an early age. If children over the age of six are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Also, if children around the age of eight have crowded front teeth, early treatment can prevent the need to extract permanent teeth later.
Planning now can save your child’s smile later
Children benefit tremendously from early-phase treatment. Receiving early treatment may prevent the removal of permanent teeth later in life, or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.
Making records to determine your child’s unique treatment
Orthodontic records will be necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of models of the teeth, X-rays, and photographs. During your child’s initial consultation, the doctor will take records to determine if early treatment is necessary.
In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they erupt. Retaining devices may not be recommended if they would interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement. A successful first phase will have created room for permanent teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.
Monitoring the teeth’s progress
At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.
Stay healthy and look attractive
The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. Phase Two usually involves full upper and lower braces.
At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records were made and a diagnosis and treatment plan was established. Certain types of appliances were used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure your child retains his or her beautiful smile.
Temporary Anchorage Device (TAD)
Temporary anchorage devices, or TADs, are small titanium anchors used in certain orthodontic cases to help achieve quicker tooth movement with more efficiency and comfort. TADs may be used in addition to braces or as an alternative to headgear.
How are TADs placed?
A strong anesthetic is used to numb the gum tissue and the jaw surrounding the area where the TAD will be placed. Once the area is numb, your doctor will gently place the TAD through the gum tissue and firmly into the jawbone. The placing of a TAD is quick, and may be over before you know it. While your doctor is placing the TAD, you may feel slight pressure, but within a day, you will no longer be able to feel the TAD. Your TAD is removed once your treatment is complete, or when it is no longer needed to help straighten your teeth. Removal of a TAD is a comfortable procedure that takes just a few minutes.
What can I do to relieve discomfort caused by my TAD?
If you do feel any discomfort from having your TADs placed, Tylenol® is recommended to help relieve your pain. If you continue to experience discomfort days after your treatment, please contact your dentist as soon as possible.
How can I keep my TAD clean?
A TAD can be cleaned the same way you clean your braces: by brushing your teeth at least three times a day. When your TAD is placed, we will also provide you with an antimicrobial mouthwash that you will need to use twice a day.
If you have questions about TADs, please contact our practice. We will be able to answer any of your questions and provide you with detailed information about your orthodontic treatment.
Efficient, Reliable Class II Correction
The Forsus Fatigue Resistant Device promotes growth in adolescents, helping to eliminate excessive overbites, improve the fit of teeth, and possibly prevent the need for jaw surgery.
Your Forsus appliance is installed in one appointment and doesn’t require any additional lab work, so you won’t have to wait to begin your treatment. There are no daily adjustments to make because the appliance provides a continuous, light force to move your jaw and teeth into their correct positions.
The Forsus appliance has a low profile and does not bow into the cheek like other Class II correction appliances. Plus, it allows for a full range of motion so your speech and eating habits won’t be affected. The best part about the Forsus appliance is that there is no external apparatus (headgear) required. It sits in the back of your mouth, so no one will even notice it’s there.
The open coil spring is designed to be easy to brush clean and there are no gaps to trap food. You’ll be able to continue your oral hygiene habits as usual without having to worry about cleaning around a bulky appliance. As with any orthodontic appliance, hard and sticky food should be avoided and brushing is always recommended after every meal.
The constant force given by the Forsus appliance means that it works without you having to do anything. Even while you sleep, Forsus is helping to move your jaw and teeth into alignment. The appliance works with your existing braces and wires, so there is no need to interrupt your planned treatment.
Feel free to contact our office to learn more about the advantages of the Forsus Fatigue Resistant Device.
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