Early Orthodontic Interventions Can Save Your Child a Lot of Work Later
Benefits of Early Orthodontic Care for Kids
When you think of orthodontics care for kids, you probably envision traditional metal braces for children around 12 to 14 years of age. Braces for school-age kids are the most common form of pediatric orthodontic care but certainly not the only option. Early orthodontic intervention is an important type of pediatric dental care that can make all the difference in your child’s smile development.
What is early orthodontic intervention?
Early orthodontic intervention is a form of pediatric orthodontics that occurs while a child still has baby teeth. In contrast, traditional orthodontic care doesn’t usually take place until a child has nearly all of their adult teeth, minus the third molars. This is the reason braces are often placed around 12 years of age.
Most early orthodontic treatment plans have two phases. The first phase is the initial intervention using palatal and mandibular expanders, MARA devices, or braces to move baby teeth. The second phase happens later when a child has most of their adult teeth and is typically used to fix any misalignment from the permanent teeth erupting.
Why is early orthodontic intervention necessary?
Early orthodontic intervention makes it possible for dentists to correct a bite problem more easily while a child’s facial structure is still malleable and more receptive to realignment. The jawbone density and maturation in a six-year-old are much different than in a 12-year-old. For this reason, some bite problems or malocclusions can only be fixed early on in childhood, and missing this window of opportunity can be detrimental.
It’s important to schedule your child’s first orthodontic evaluation no later than their seventh birthday in the event they’re a candidate for early intervention.
How do I know if my child needs early orthodontic care?
A dentist or orthodontist can determine if your child needs orthodontic care. Contrary to popular belief, crooked baby teeth don’t necessarily mean your child needs braces. Your child’s smile will be evaluated based on jaw development, palatal spacing, and the class of malocclusion present.
A Class I malocclusion is the most common. It occurs when the dental arches and overall bite are adequately aligned, but the teeth are crowded and misaligned. A Class II malocclusion occurs when the lower jaw is undeveloped, resulting in an overbite. If the lower jaw is overdeveloped, it’s considered a Class III malocclusion.
Malocclusions can be hereditary or develop from oral habits. Tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, and prolonged thumbsucking or bottle and pacifier use can lead to a bite misalignment if early intervention isn’t taken.
What’s involved in early orthodontic treatment?
After your child has been evaluated and diagnosed with a malocclusion requiring interceptive treatment, a treatment plan will be developed involving one or more oral appliances.
For Class II malocclusions a Mandibular Anterior Repositioning Appliance (MARA) device can be used. The MARA device attaches to the molars and uses consistent pressure to correct overbites and buck teeth.
Palatal and mandibular expanders treat Class II and III malocclusions caused by a narrow palate and jaw, if there is adequate jaw space to accept baby or permanent teeth. These devices place gentle but constant pressure on the maxillary bones to widen the dental arch.
An exciting new orthodontic treatment option offered at King Dental is the Myobrace system. It’s non-invasive and highly effective at treating myofunctional disorders that lead to malocclusions. The Myobrace is an oral device with distinct stages of treatment to prevent crooked teeth and bad bites before they become a permanent fixture in your child’s smile. It can be a fantastic interceptive treatment, especially when combined with traditional braces after your child has most of their permanent teeth.
Your child’s dentist may also recommend tandem treatment for more severe or complicated malocclusions to achieve the best result possible.
What happens if early orthodontic treatment isn’t completed?
Severe malocclusions can’t be easily reversed after the jaw finishes developing. While your child can still get braces and additional treatment to improve their Class II or Class III misalignment, the results will be much more limited than if the early orthodontic intervention was completed.
Dr. King will explain your child’s unique situation in detail, including why early orthodontic intervention is necessary and what can happen if treatment is postponed.
Learn more about early orthodontic care for kids at King Dental.
King Dental provides comprehensive dental care for all ages, including pediatric orthodontics in Virginia Beach. If your child is nearing their seventh birthday and hasn’t yet received an evaluation, you can schedule their appointment today by calling our office or requesting a visit online.