Dr. Drizen is proud to introduce the Practice of Orthodontics to Collins Dentistry for Children. Meet Dr. Drizen here.
Your smile is a Window
Your smile is your greeting to the world. It’s also a window to an important part of your dental health – the alignment of your teeth.
Not everyone is born with beautiful teeth. Crooked teeth or spaces between the teeth may be a source of embarrassment or self consciousness. Improperly aligned teeth and jaws – called a “malocclusion” – also can lead to a host of sometimes painful dental disorders.
The good news is that orthodontic treatment can correct these problems, and help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile that’s good for life.
A Lifetime of Benefits – Choosing the Optimal Time for Treatment
While orthodontic treatment most often begins between the ages of 9 and 14, some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if they’re treated early. If it appears that treatment will be needed, your orthodontist can advise you as to the ideal time to begin. This gives your orthodontist the best chance to:
- Guide jaw growth
- Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Improve appearance and self-esteem
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
- Improve the way lips meet
Signs the Bite’s Not Right
It’s not always easy to tell when your child has an orthodontic problem. Even teeth that look straight may be hiding a problem bite. Here are some clues that may indicate the need for orthodontic attention:
- Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that are too far forward or back
- Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
- Protruding teeth
- Upper and lower teeth that don’t meet, or meet in an abnormal way
- An unbalanced facial appearance
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. They receive additional specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth. Only those who successfully complete this formal education may call themselves orthodontists.
Timing is everything – even when it comes to your child’s orthodontic treatment. Early treatment, also called interceptive treatment, means treatment that is performed while some baby teeth are still present in your child’s mouth.
The American Academy of Ortho recommends that your child get a check-up with an orthodontist at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7. By then, your child has enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to evaluate the developing teeth and the jaws and to determine whether an orthodontic problem exists or is developing. Putting off a check-up with an orthodontist until a child has lost all baby teeth could be a disservice. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they are found early. A check-up no later than age 7 gives your orthodontist the opportunity to recommend the appropriate treatment at the appropriate time. If early treatment is in order, the orthodontist may be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing. Remember, early assessments can provide a wealth of information and orthodontists are trained to spot subtle problems in young children.
There are generally three outcomes of an initial check-up:
• No treatment is expected to be necessary;
• Treatment may be needed in the future, so the child will be followed periodically while the face and jaws continue to grow; or
• There is a problem that lends itself to early treatment.
While there are many orthodontic problems that orthodontists agree are best treated after all permanent teeth have come in, early treatment can be in a patient’s best interests if their problem is one that could become more serious over time if left untreated. The goal of early treatment is to intercept the developing problem, eliminate the cause, guide the growth of facial and jaw bones, and provide adequate space for incoming permanent teeth. A patient may require a second course of treatment after all permanent teeth have come in to move those teeth into their best positions.
The kinds of problems orthodontists may recommend treating while a child still has baby teeth include:
• Underbites – when the lower front teeth are ahead of the upper front teeth;
• Crossbites – when the jaw shifts to one side;
• Very crowded teeth;
• Excessively spaced teeth;
• Extra or missing teeth;
• Teeth that meet abnormally, or don’t meet at all; or
• Thumb, finger, or pacifier sucking that is affecting the teeth or jaw growth.
Most orthodontic problems (malocclusions) are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth, and some jaw growth problems. Other malocclusions are acquired as a result of thumb or finger sucking, dental disease, accidents, the early or late loss of baby (primary) teeth, or other causes.
Early orthodontic treatment can take many forms. The orthodontist could prescribe a fixed or removable appliance, a device used to move teeth, change the position of the jaw, or hold teeth in place in order to bring about desirable changes. Sometimes no appliances are necessary. Rather, removal of some baby teeth may help the permanent teeth erupt better. The extractions will be timed to take best advantage of a patient’s growth and development.
Orthodontic treatment creates a better bite, making teeth fit better, and decreases the risk of future, and potentially costly dental problems. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. A malocclusion can cause tooth enamel to wear abnormally, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, and excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue. Without treatment, many problems simply become worse.
Orthodontic treatment is a partnership between the patient and the orthodontist. The orthodontist provides custom-made fixed or removable appliances that use gentle pressure over time to move teeth into their proper positions. Your job is to follow the orthodontist’s instructions, keep scheduled orthodontic appointments and maintain excellent oral hygiene so you achieve your best results. You will also need to see your primary care dentist as recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions
Other questions or concerns?
If you have any question or concerns about your child’s dental health, feel free to call our office or send an email to Email Collins Dentistry. We are happy to answer your questions concerning diet, oral hygiene, and your child’s dental health. Thank you for visiting.