EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PREVENTATIVE ORTHODONTICS
We’re often asked about the difference between regular orthodontic treatments and early or preventative orthodontics.
Why would a child need early treatment and how could it benefit your little one in the long run?
According to the Australian Dental Association, children should start visiting the dentist when a baby’s tooth becomes visible or they reach 12 months old. That may sound early, but prevention is always better than cure when it comes to your child’s oral health. The recommendation for visiting an orthodontist is around 7 years old. The ideal age to start orthodontic treatment will depend on what issues – if any – your child presents with.
The idea of an initial visit is for ‘screening’ – it is most likely early orthodontic treatment will not be needed – but in the cases that it is – the benefits can be significant. The idea of early treatment is to correct the growth of your child’s jaw and some bite problems. Early treatment can assist with gaining enough room for permanent teeth to properly come through, minimizing the chances of extractions being required later on.
Orthodontic Problems and the Benefits of Early Prevention
Orthodontic issues such as too much space between the teeth, overcrowding, jaw growth issues, and bad bites can all be inherited or result from an injury to the mouth. Thumb-sucking and early or late loss of baby teeth also contribute to orthodontic problems.
Children mostly lose their baby teeth by the age of 13. Once they reach the end of their teens, the jawbones harden and stop growing. Adult orthodontic procedures take more time and are more likely to involve oral surgery and tooth extractions.
Receiving early preventative orthodontics as a child can help make the overall treatment process easier.
Preventative orthodontics allows:
- Jaw growth and development to be monitored
- Permanent teeth to be guided into their correct position and avoid crowding or spacing problems
- Front teeth to be protected from the risk of trauma
- Improved oral hygiene habits
- Reduce the time and complexity of second phase, or adult, treatment
- Your child to avoid self-esteem issues
How to Tell If a Child Needs Preventative Orthodontic Treatment
The following are tell-tale signs that your child may require early treatment:
- Difficulty biting or chewing
- Speech impediments
- Mouth breathing
- Late or an early loss of baby teeth
- Continuing to suck the thumb after the age of 5
- Teeth that fail to come together
- Protruding teeth
- The jaw shifts when your child opens or closes their mouth
- Crowded front teeth
What to Expect During Early Treatment
Preventative orthodontics should serve as a pattern for total health. Early prevention results in long-term oral health and reduced dental costs in the long run. It encourages fresh breath, a bright smile, and an overall boost of confidence.
Here’s what you can expect when you bring your child in for preventative care.
The exam includes examination and assessment of the growing face, teeth, and jaws.
Regular dentist check-ups are still needed:
Your regular family dentist will arrange:
- Scaling and polishing to remove tartar and stains
- Instructions for you and your family on the best way to reduce plaque and cavity-causing bacteria
- Fluoride treatments work to strengthen the enamel on the surface of the teeth.
You and your child will learn the proper methods of flossing and brushing teeth and using any necessary dental products.
Both your dentist and orthodontist may need digital x-rays to compliment your child’s exam. Without the x-rays, certain conditions may well be missed.
Digital x-rays can detect a lot more than just cavities. For instance, your orthodontist may take a closer look at erupting teeth, evaluate an injury, diagnose bone disease of plan preventative orthodontic treatment.
Preventative Orthodontics FAQ
Does My Child Need Preventative Treatment?
Your child may benefit from preventative care if he or she has inadequate jaw space, malocclusions (incorrect bite), missing primary teeth, or teeth erupting in the wrong places. If you think your child might need early care or intervention, schedule a consultation with a specialist orthodontist.
What Should We Expect During Preventative Treatment?
Treatment (if needed) will vary from one child to the next. Your orthodontist may fix a preventative appliance to your child’s mouth, which will require more than one visit to monitor progress. If the appliance is removable, such as a plate, you’ll receive instructions on how and when your child should wear his or her device.
Will I Have to Follow Special Instructions During My Child’s Preventative Treatment?
Yes, you will. Besides ensuring that your child’s orthodontic appliance is worn correctly, you must also prevent him or her from consuming foods that may damage the appliance. If the appliance is removable, you’ll need to clean it often and store it appropriately.
It’s Never Too Early for an Orthodontic check-up
If your child is over the age of 7, it may be worthwhile to contact the orthodontist and book a simple exam and check which may prevent significant and costly issues in the future. You are always welcome to get in touch earlier than this too if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s oral health and development.