The Right Age to Start
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a child first be seen by an orthodontist as early as age 7; earlier if a problem is discovered by a parent or family dentist. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if treated prior to the completion of growth. Early treatment may prevent the need for extraction of permanent teeth, surgery and other serious corrections later in life. However, owing to the complex nature of orthodontics, early treatment may not be right for every child. Only after a clinical examination of your child can the proper treatment plan be determined.
An Optimal Time for Screening
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
The Benefits of Early Screening
Early evaluation and treatment can yield many results, including the following:
- Creating facial symmetry through influencing positive jaw growth
- Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Correcting harmful oral habits
- Preserving space for unerupted teeth
- Reducing the need for tooth removal
- Reducing treatment time for orthodontic care
- Improving self-esteem, image and some speech problems
Phase One Treatment
Phase One Interceptive Treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase One treatment lasts about 6-12 months. The primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe and to improve self-esteem and self-image.
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Upper Front Teeth Protrusion
The appearance and function of your teeth are impacted by this type of bite. It is characterized by the upper teeth extending too far forward or the lower teeth not extending far enough forward. These bite problems, typically referred to as a Class II problem, are generally due to inherited traits.
The upper front teeth extend out over the lower front teeth, sometimes causing the lower front teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth. Generally, a discrepancy between the length of the upper and lower jaws causes this type of bite.
The upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, which may cause tooth stratification and misaligned jaw growth. If a patient has a narrow upper jaw, it may cause them to move their lower jaw forward or to the side with closing into a bite.
Proper chewing is impacted by this type of bite, in which the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap. Openbites cause a number of unwanted habits, such as tongue thrusting.
Crowding occurs when teeth have insufficient room to erupt from the gum. Crowding can often be corrected by expansion, and many times, tooth removal can be avoided. This is known as one of the most common problems associated with those needing orthodontic care.
Spacing between teeth is another common problem associated with those needing orthodontic care. Spacing problems may be caused by missing teeth or the relationship between the jaw size and the size of the teeth.
Dental Midlines Not Matched
This type of problem is caused when the back bite does not fit and match appropriately, which may negatively impact jaw and proper dental function.
In this type of bite (or a Class III problem), the lower teeth and jaw extend out over the upper jaw structure. This, too, is generally attributed to inherited characteristics. In most cases, the lack of development in the upper jaw is the cause of a Class III problem.
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorders
The “Temporomandibular Joint,” more commonly referred to as the “jaw joint,” assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw. Unfortunately, this joint is a common area for recurring pain. Although conventional wisdom suggests that “popping” sounds in the jaw indicates a TMJ dysfunction, this is not always true. Many times, your jaw is functioning properly even if a “popping” sound is present when chewing or talking.
Some factors that may cause a TMJ disorder are malocclusions (bad bites), clenching and grinding of the teeth or facial injuries.