Timing Is Everything: Why Early Treatment Matters
When it comes to your child’s smile, timing is everything! Identifying oral issues in early childhood means they can be corrected before becoming more serious. This is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child have their first check-up with an orthodontist by the time they’re about 7 years old. At this age, most kids have a developing mouth with a good mix of permanent and baby teeth present. That means an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Johnson can evaluate their teeth and jaw, which can provide him with quite a bit of information!
Here at Johnson Family Orthodontics, we want all of our patients to have the best chance at a healthy smile. While many orthodontic problems can be treated after all the permanent teeth have emerged, early treatment may be recommended for younger children if the issue is likely to become more serious over time. We refer to this as interceptive treatment. Our goal with this type of treatment is to intercept the developing problem and correct it! This allows us to guide the growth of the facial and jaw bones, and provide enough space for the incoming adult teeth, as well.
Who would benefit from interceptive treatment?
There are several common problems we may recommend treating while a child still has their primary teeth. This can include:
- Very crowded teeth
- teeth with excessive spacing
- extra or missing teeth
- teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
- poor oral habits that are affecting the teeth or jaw growth
Many orthodontic issues are genetic. This includes crowded teeth, excess spacing, missing teeth, and other irregularities. Some of these problems can also be acquired through traumatic injury, extended thumb-sucking or pacifier use, or premature tooth loss, among others. However it occurs, a bad bite can affect a child’s facial development, their teeth, and the cosmetic appearance of their smile. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Johnson can address all of these concerns with interceptive treatment!
What does early orthodontic treatment look like?
Interceptive treatment can take many forms, and many of the most common ones won’t even require the use of brackets or wires. Some examples of this are:
- removing one or more primary teeth to help guide the proper placement of the permanent teeth
- using expanders to widen the upper jaw and provide space for very crowded teeth
- placing teeth spacers to save a spot for permanent teeth if a primary tooth has been lost early due to injury or decay
Early evaluations let us follow the normal patterns of a child’s dental growth and development. This ensures that our expert team can correct orthodontic issues at the most optimal time! Many of these problems can be treated with relative ease in a child whose mouth is still developing but may require more invasive treatment once their jawbones stop growing. This will normally occur between the ages of 16-18. Once it does, treatment can be more complex.
Interceptive orthodontics can achieve lasting results for many of these issues and may lessen the impact of others! Treatment during this time can:
- create space for the proper eruption of the permanent teeth
- enhance the growth of a child’s jaw
- promote a healthier relationship between the teeth and jaws
- give the child a straighter and more symmetrical smile
- Improve the child’s overall oral health.
That being said, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process. This is generally done once all their permanent teeth have erupted and will leave them with a beautifully aligned smile that looks and feels incredible!
The benefits of early orthodontic evaluations
Early childhood evaluations are the perfect starting point for giving your child a fully functional smile that will last a lifetime! If no immediate treatment is necessary following their initial check-up, Dr. Johnson will recommend periodic follow-up visits to assess your child’s dental development as their face and jaws continue to grow. These appointments allow him to:
- monitor the progress of emerging permanent teeth
- monitor the progress of facial and jaw development
- reduce the need for jaw surgery later in life
- guide emerging teeth into the ideal positions
- detect hidden dental problems
- reduce the risk of impacted teeth
- reduce the risk of needing tooth extractions in the future
As you can see, there are many reasons to love these visits! Being able to approach your child’s smile proactively instead of reactively gives us the chance to provide young patients with the care they need at the time it will be most beneficial.
Find your child’s best smile at Johnson Family Orthodontics
Whatever interceptive orthodontics looks like for your child, the bottom line is that some problems are easier to correct if they’re found and treated early. Waiting until all their permanent teeth come in or until their facial growth is nearly complete may make it more difficult to treat certain issues.
An early evaluation with Dr. Johnson doesn’t require a referral and can alert you to any potential problems. Remember: timing is everything! You can trust our expert team to recommend treatment only when it’s most appropriate for your child. We know that their smile is unique, and will build a customized treatment plan around their specific needs.
To learn more about how children can benefit from early evaluations and interceptive orthodontics, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Johnson!