Orthodontics is the name given to the aspect of dentistry that focuses on the correction of the position of the teeth and jaws. Orthodontic treatment is extremely common and is normally recommended to begin in childhood. In fact, research estimates that around a third of children will need orthodontic treatment.
Many people think that orthodontic treatment is carried out purely for cosmetic reasons. While it certainly does improve the appearance of the teeth to help the patient can feel more confident in the appearance of their smile, there are also important health reasons associated with orthodontic treatment. Teeth that aren’t properly aligned or do not come together precisely when you close your mouth are much harder to keep clean, are more likely to be damaged due to uneven wear and stress and can result in the patient experiencing a range of unpleasant and even debilitating symptoms.
It may surprise you to learn that orthodontic treatment is now recommended to begin much younger than before. Referred to as early orthodontic treatment, here’s what you need to know about why early treatment can be necessary.
There are several indicators that might suggest that your child could benefit from early orthodontic treatment. Some of the most common include:
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first see an orthodontist as early as seven years old. The purpose of this initial visit is so that the orthodontist can assess your child’s teeth to see if orthodontic treatment is likely to be needed in the future. If your child is identified as being someone who would benefit from orthodontic treatment to correct an issue with their bite, this may begin at around age eight or nine.
One of the biggest benefits of early orthodontic treatment is that undertaking treatment at this time will help to guide the growth pattern of the jaw (which will continue growing into late adolescence) and will help to ensure that there is adequate space in the mouth for all of your child’s permanent teeth to come through properly as they get older. This could help avoid the need for future extractions.
Another benefit of early orthodontic treatment is that it tends to work more quickly when children are younger. Since the bones in their jaw are still pliable, they will respond to the pressure to move them far more easily. This means a treatment that could take 2 or more years as a teenager or adult, could potentially be completed in half the time if started when the patient is younger.
Finally, by getting your child early orthodontic treatment, you will be setting them up with better oral health in the future. As we know, misalignment of the teeth and jaws can lead to a range of problems including stress on the teeth that could cause fractures and erosion, temporomandibular joint disorder, gum recession, and decay - all of which can have an effect on your oral and even your general health. Fortunately, teeth that are properly aligned are less likely to be affected by these issues and could remain healthy for far longer. Your child is also less likely to be affected by an inflammatory condition known as periodontal disease which has been linked to tooth loss, bone deterioration, and even wider health problems including diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
If you would like more information about early orthodontics, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our knowledgeable orthodontic team today by calling our offices.