The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children receive their initial evaluation from an orthodontist by the age of seven. A lot of parents, referred by their general dentist or pediatrician for a complimentary consultation, are concerned that “seven is too young to be thinking about braces?”. By the age of seven, most children have begun to lose their primary teeth, and their adult teeth are making their way in. At this point, most orthodontic problems can be identified; sometimes it is what you CAN’T see that can be the problem…
Our state-of-the-art technology allows us to evaluate how the bones and teeth are forming and developing. More often than not, these issues can be monitored until the child is older, while some require interceptive treatment.
What is interceptive treatment?
The goal of interceptive treatment is to intercept a moderate or severe orthodontic problem to reduce or eliminate it. Some of these dental issues include a crossbite, narrow palate, overbite/underbite, or oral habits such as thumb sucking. Interceptive treatment takes advantage of the young, developing jaw bones and growth.
What are some of the specific dental issues that may require treatment?
An anterior or front crossbite occurs when the upper teeth are behind the lower teeth; upper teeth should fit over the lower teeth. When this happens, the tooth enamel can wear down, and in some cases chipping or breaking of a tooth may occur. It is important to address an anterior crossbite(s) early to help minimize the need for extensive dental work such as root canals, crowns, or build ups in the future.
Similarly, a posterior or back crossbite occurs when the upper back teeth bite on the inside of the lower teeth. This is often the result of a narrow upper jaw. Dr. Larrabee prefers to use our high-tech bracket system to get the expansion, or widening of the upper jaw needed to correct the crossbite and avoid appliances, such as a palatal expander.
Some children have oral habits such as thumb sucking or a tongue thrust that can cause the front teeth to excessively flare creating little or no overlap between the upper and lower front teeth. This is known as an open bite. When the front teeth are angled or flared out, this puts the patient at risk for trauma. One good hit with a soccer ball, or slip at the pool can cause permanent damage to those flared front teeth.
What if my child doesn’t require treatment?
After a child visits for their initial consultation, Dr. Gilbert and Dr. O’Gara will either recommend treatment, or they will join our observation program. We will continue to take updated pictures and 3D x-ray images, new measurements and work with parents to determine the perfect time to begin orthodontic treatment.