Orthodontic treatment involves more than the fitting of orthodontic appliances. In fact, one of the most important roles of an orthodontist is to evaluate and monitor the teeth and jaws of young children.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child make their first visit to the orthodontist by the age of seven. Earlier if you notice a problem with the child's bite. At this early age, an orthodontist will be able to catch a problem before it grows. This gives the orthodontist a chance to start treatment as early as possible.
Now, does that mean that a child with a few baby teeth can begin treatment to correct a dental problem?
Some orthodontic treatments are meant for children with milk teeth
Many of these treatments are preventative while others help to correct a problem starting from an early age. A few examples of such treatments are:
1. Space maintainers
A space maintainer is used to replace a baby tooth that falls out too early. It keeps the adjacent teeth from shifting to fill the gap. A space maintainer is a great, non-invasive way to ensure that permanent teeth grow in their proper alignment.
2. Early extraction
A milk tooth may take too long to fall off. It may even refuse to come loose altogether. In such a case, a dentist or orthodontist will remove the tooth to create space for the eruption of the permanent tooth.
3. Preventing overcrowded teeth
An orthodontist can detect future overcrowding before the permanent teeth start to erupt. They will use proactive orthodontic treatments to create space for the permanent teeth.
This means that the treatment is done on children who are about six years old. Guided eruption is only an option for children with serious malocclusions.
4. Preventing of thumb sucking
Thumb sucking is a bad habit that can push the teeth forward and out of alignment. An orthodontist can put in a temporary dental appliance to discourage the habit.
Ideally, the jaws should grow at the same pace. But some children will have one jaw that grows faster than the other. This imbalance usually causes one or more of the following problems:
- An overbite, underbite or crossbite
- Breathing problems that can affect sleep
- Speech impediments
- Further dental problems caused by grinding or difficulty in cleaning the teeth
When a bad bite is this serious, an orthodontist will prescribe headgear for a child, even one who still has some of their milk teeth. This treatment is meant to stimulate the growth of the smaller jaw and create a properly aligned bite.
An orthodontist will create a timely and effective treatment plan
In the end, an orthodontist will give orthodontic treatment that will suit each child's unique needs. Some children will need to wear an orthodontic appliance while they still have some of their milk teeth.
Some will visit the orthodontist for regular evaluations and wait to get treatment when they are a little older. Others still will have to undergo minor procedures that will allow their permanent teeth to grow in a better way.
If your child needs help with their bite, then get in touch with us. Our orthodontist will do a comprehensive exam on the child and advise you on the best way forward.
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