We in dentistry, advise parents to have an orthodontic evaluation some time before your child is 7 years of age. At this time, some of your child's adult teeth have come in and some primary (baby) teeth remain. This is a good time to check for developing problems. Treatment that begins while your child's teeth are coming in is called “interceptive orthodontics.” It provides an opportunity to achieve the best results in orthodontic treatment.
Once this evaluation takes place, it may mean that orthodontic treatment may need to take place in two-stages. A first phase of orthodontic treatment may prevent, intercept or minimize future orthodontic treatment. The first stage may be a process of guiding the growth of the jawbones that support the teeth. This is called “growth modification.” Then when the adult teeth have erupted through the gums, it may be time to do the second and final stage.
If a second phase of treatment is necessary it will probably require braces. These are small metal brackets that are bonded to the teeth. Thin flexible wires are threaded through them, and the wires are designed to push or pull on the teeth to provide a small amount of pressure that makes the teeth slowly reposition themselves within the jawbone. A light and controlled force pulling on a tooth causes new bone and ligament (the fibers that hold teeth in place) to be formed. These are living tissues that are constantly changing and remodeling themselves.
If you wait until your child's permanent (adult) teeth have all come in to start this process, it will be too late to correct some types of orthodontic problems, such as some types of malocclusions (“mal” – bad, “occlusion” – bite). It's better to work together with your child's stages of growth and development in order to have an optimum correction, both in looks and function.
You may be wondering whether a two-stage treatment costs twice as much. In fact, it is likely to be less expensive than a late one-stage treatment would be. Sometimes, the first stage may correct an underlying problem and make further treatment unnecessary. If a second phase is needed, it is likely to be easier and less costly.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about orthodontia for your child. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Preventative & Cost Saving Orthodontics.”