The expression ‘an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure’ can be true in orthodontic treatment of children. Different conditions can be either be partially or fully corrected as the child grows. If one waits until after growth has completed, that same condition can either not be corrected, or it can become a far more complicated procedure. Also as a pediatric patient, the bone structure is not as rigid as the bone structure of an adult, making treatment easier to tolerate.
How do you know when it is time to make an appointment for an initial exam for your younger children? Every patient presents with unique orthodontic problems and growth considerations, the “best age” to start treatment is different for each person. Dr. Lynnette Nyberg at Nyberg Orthodontics agrees with The American Association of Orthodontics and their recommendation that the proper age for a child’s first visit to the orthodontist be no later than seven years of age. This is because by the age of 7, most children will have their 6-year molars and at least four to eight of their permanent anterior teeth. By monitoring a child’s growth and development, we can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while baby teeth are still present. Orthodontic treatments can improve most tooth and jaw alignment problems at any age, but there is usually a best age to start treatment in terms of the amount of improvement that can be achieved, the treatment cost and duration of treatment. The best age is unique to each individual patient. It depends on where they are in their growth phase, the severity of their case, and the gender of the child.
Malocclusion, meaning teeth that are crooked or crowded, is often an inherited condition. Some examples of genetic dental conditions are crowding, spacing, overbite, underbite, deepbite, deep bite, and extra or missing teeth. If you have a family history of malocclusion, your children will likely share that problem.
Different habits can also affect the alignment of an individual’s occlusion, or bite. These habits may include, but are not limited to sucking a thumb or fingers.
At times Two Phase Treatment may be recommended. What is this you may ask? Two Phase Orthodontic Treatment is two separate times that your child receives orthodontic treatment. The first phase of treatment is done while the child still has several of their primary or baby teeth. The goal of this treatment is to:
- Prevent a problem from developing or worsening
- Intercept a developing problem
- Guide the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth
The benefits of this first phase of treatment is physical by enabling your child to bite or chew more effectively. Without this first phase of treatment, an unhealthy environment may be created for the growth and development of your child’s teeth, gums, jaws and face. For many, it also may help with their self-esteem.
At times there can be a resting period between phases of treatment that can range between months to even years.
The second phase of treatment is what you might think of as the more ‘traditional’ orthodontic treatment. This phase of treatment is done once your child has most or all of their permanent teeth. You and your child may also have the option of ‘traditional braces’ or Invisalign. The goal of the orthodontic treatment is to:
- Create a proper relationship of the teeth and jaws so everything works together in harmony.
- Correct the alignment of the teeth to create a beautiful smile.
- Position the teeth and jaws for an attractive face and profile.
Orthodontics is not just for looks, it is for function, so sooner is better than later for your child’s first visit to the orthodontist. Orthodontic treatment facilitates the alignment of the teeth so that they fit together in a better fashion, allowing the teeth to function and wear in the manner that they were created. A smile that is not only esthetic, but also functions well. By having a better bite, or occlusion, the risk of potentially costly future dental problems is reduced.
We encourage you to contact Nyberg Orthodontics at 603.749.2900 to arrange for a complimentary consultation to have your child evaluated by Dr. Nyberg to see if he or she would benefit from orthodontic treatment.