Orthodontic treatment is most often associated with teens, but it can benefit patients of all ages, including children. This is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child has an orthodontic evaluation by around the age of 7. Some parents are confused by this guideline since many young children still have developing mouths and several baby teeth. But identifying dental issues early in life gives orthodontists like Dr. Sears the chance to correct them before they develop into something more serious. Keep reading to learn more about why early orthodontic treatment matters.
A preventative approach like this gives children the best chance at a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles! Coppe + Sears is proud to offer a complimentary consultation to potential patients. Parents who schedule a visit for their young children can expect an assessment of their oral health and development up to this point. Dr. Sears will check for anything out of the ordinary that may require further attention, whether now or in the future. Early detection of possible problems between the ages of 6-9 may prompt something called interceptive orthodontics.
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics is also known as Phase I orthodontics. It allows an orthodontist to identify and diagnose any issues with jaw growth or tooth development at a more optimal age for better results. Treatment in this phase will create space for the proper development and eruption of the permanent teeth. It can also enhance the growth of a child’s jaw, promoting a healthier relationship between the teeth and jaws. This gives children a straighter and more symmetrical smile. It can also improve their overall oral health.
Who is a good candidate for interceptive orthodontics?
There are several reasons why interceptive orthodontics may be recommended. After Dr. Sears inspects a child’s teeth and jaws, he may discuss this option with parents if it appears that:
- the child will be prone to a problem we want to prevent
- the child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept
- the child’s jawbones may need some guidance as they grow
Most orthodontic issues are genetic, like crowded teeth, teeth with extra space between them, extra or missing teeth, and other irregularities. Some may be acquired, however. These types of malocclusions may be caused by a traumatic injury, extended thumb sucking or pacifier use, dental disease, and premature tooth loss. Whether they are inherited or acquired, these problems can affect the alignment of a child’s teeth, their facial development, and the cosmetic appearance of their smile. Interceptive orthodontics can address each of these concerns.
Examples of interceptive orthodontics
Some parents worry that an early orthodontic exam will automatically lead to treatment, but this is rarely the case. In fact, we recommend immediate treatment for only a small percentage of the young patients we evaluate in our Lexington office. Even if treatment is indicated, that will not necessarily mean putting a child into braces right away. Many of the most common Phase I treatments do not even use brackets, wires, and bands! Some examples of this include:
- 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
At Coppe + Sears, we know that following the normal patterns of a child’s dental growth and development allows us to treat issues at the most optimal time. Many problems can be treated fairly easily in a child whose mouth is still developing, but require more invasive treatment once their jawbones stop growing. This normally happens between the ages of 16-18 and may make treatment more complex.
In many cases, interceptive orthodontics can achieve positive, lasting results for these issues and may lessen the impact of others. That said, most patients will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process.
Schedule regular visits for a smile that looks good and feels great
Early orthodontic evaluations give children the best foundation for healthy teeth and a fully functional smile! Even if Dr. Sears does not detect any dental issues that need attention, there are many benefits to visiting an orthodontist throughout childhood. These regular check-ups allow us 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
There are so many reasons to love these visits! Being able to approach a child’s smile proactively instead of reactively puts us in a better position to give our young patients the care they need at the time it will benefit them most.
Enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles starting with Coppe + Sears
Every child has a unique smile, which is why Dr. Sears customizes treatment around each patient’s specific needs. What works well for one child may not be a good fit for another, but our personalized care guarantees every patient receives exactly the right plan for their smile! To learn more about how children can benefit from early evaluations and interceptive orthodontics, get in touch and schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Sears.