When it comes to our children, there are a lot of questions and concerns to navigate throughout their lives. One thing parents and caregivers worry about is their child’s smile—how to keep their teeth strong and healthy, how often they should visit the dentist, and if orthodontic care might become necessary at any point. We’re here to help with that last point! Although orthodontics is often associated with teens, treatment can actually benefit patients of all ages, including children. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child has an orthodontic evaluation by around the age of 7. But why is early treatment so important? We’re taking a look at why early treatment matters and how it can help your child’s smile thrive!
Here at RiverView Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer patients an initial consultation at no charge. For young children, this visit will include an assessment of their oral health and development. Dr. Upton will be checking for anything unusual that could signify treatment is necessary, whether now or in the future. Identifying orthodontic issues early on gives him the chance to intervene before they develop into something that requires more intensive treatment. This gives your child the best chance at a lifetime of healthy smiles!
An orthodontic evaluation for children between the ages of 6-9 can lead to early detection of possible problems and may prompt what we call interceptive orthodontics to correct them. Let’s take a closer look at what that means and how it can help your child achieve and maintain a beautifully aligned smile! Keep reading below for more information.
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics, also known as Phase I treatment, allows an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Upton to detect any disturbances in jaw growth or tooth development at an age when we can more easily address them. This can be done with orthodontic treatment that will create space to guide the proper development and eruption of your child’s permanent teeth, as well as favorably enhance the growth of their jaw. This type of early intervention can make it easier to prevent certain issues and treat them by promoting a more optimal relationship between the teeth and jaws. This way, children are left with straighter, more symmetrical, and healthier smiles!
Who benefits from interceptive orthodontics?
There are many reasons to consider interceptive orthodontics. During your child’s initial orthodontic exam, Dr. Upton will thoroughly inspect their teeth and jaws. Treatment may be recommended if it appears that:
- the child will be prone to a particular problem that we want to keep from developing
- the child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept
- the child’s jawbones may need a bit of guidance as they grow
Many orthodontic issues are genetic, but some can be acquired. Inherited problems will usually include crowded teeth or teeth with too much space between them, extra or missing teeth, and other irregularities of the jaws, teeth, and face. Acquired malocclusions can be caused by accidental trauma, extended thumb sucking or pacifier use, dental disease, and premature tooth loss. Whether a child’s issues are inherited or acquired, they can affect the alignment of the teeth, facial development, and appearance as well. Interceptive orthodontics can address each of these aspects.
What are some examples of interceptive orthodontics?
Early orthodontic exams don’t always lead to treatment. Immediate treatment is typically only recommended for a small fraction of the young patients we evaluate. Even when treatment is indicated, that doesn’t always mean putting the child into braces right away! Many Phase I treatments don’t involve brackets, wires, and bands at all! Examples of this may include:
- removing one or more primary teeth to help guide the proper placement of permanent teeth
- using expanders to help widen the upper jaw and treat extremely crowded teeth
- placing teeth spacers to help save a spot for permanent teeth if a primary tooth is lost early due to injury or decay
Here at RiverView Orthodontics, we follow the normal patterns of childhood growth and development, as we believe this gives us the best chance to tackle orthodontic issues at the most optimal time. Many problems can be treated relatively easily in a child whose mouth is still developing but would require more invasive treatment as they get older and their jawbones stop growing. Interceptive orthodontics can often achieve lasting results for many of these issues and may lessen the impact of others. Most patients will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process down the road, however.
Get your child’s smile off to a great start with RiverView Orthodontics
When you schedule your child for an early orthodontic evaluation with our offices in Tuscaloosa or Demopolis, you’re giving them the best chance at a healthy smile that looks good and feels great! Even if we don’t detect any dental issues, there are several benefits to visiting an orthodontist regularly throughout childhood. These check-ups allow us to:
- monitor the progress of emerging teeth
- monitor the progress of facial and jaw development
- reduce the risk of jaw surgery in the future
- guide incoming teeth into the ideal position
- detect hidden dental problems
- reduce the risk of impacted teeth
- reduce the risk of permanent tooth extractions
We love early orthodontic evaluations because they allow us to proactively approach a child’s orthodontic care, rather than reactively! This puts us in a better position to give young patients the care and treatment they need at the time it will benefit them the most.
Your child’s smile is as unique as they are and we know that what works well for one patient may not be a good fit for another. That’s why Dr. Upton uses a customized treatment plan for every patient, built around their specific needs and goals. Do you have a young child who may benefit from interceptive orthodontics? Contact our team today to schedule a FREE orthodontic evaluation with Dr. Upton. Your child’s smile deserves the best and that’s exactly what we provide!