Children should have their first dental visit about six months after first teeth emerge or around the age of twelve months. This early visit, along with subsequent visits, involves a brief dental exam so any early problems can be identified. It also provides the perfect opportunity for parents to learn the best ways to care for their child’s teeth, discuss the possible treatment needed like braces, and how interceptive orthodontics may be the perfect response to provide a healthy smile.
Naturally straight teeth are truly a gift; but for children not so blessed, your family dentist has options to offer. Depending on the issue to be addressed, your dental provider may introduce interceptive orthodontics. This focuses more on prevention than correction, and generally gets started while the child is still in growth stages.
The reason for this early intervention is multi-faceted. For many malocclusions, the problem starts with lack of jaw space. If this is addressed during the growing stages, the jaw can be changed to meet the needs of permanent teeth as they emerge with the use of any number of dental devices. Working with the jaw and teeth simultaneously may prevent overcrowding.
If orthodontic treatment is delayed until permanent teeth have erupted, it is too late to alter the jaw. At this point, the response may require the removal of one or more permanent teeth to make space. If this can be avoided, that would obviously be the best option.
Straight teeth mean more than a beautiful smile. Crooked or misshapen teeth provide areas that are difficult to reach with a tooth brush. It is these areas where dental plaque grows leading to the potential for dental decay and the occurrence of gum disease.
Crooked teeth can lead to many other complications that can impact oral health. Protruding teeth may result in a speech impediment like a lisp; when teeth are not aligned properly, the patient may start clenching the jaws and grinding their teeth. Teeth grinding often starts subconsciously during sleep, but can quickly escalate into a constant habit. This can lead to worn dental enamel and weakened teeth resulting in chipped and/or broken teeth.
Early intervention does not guarantee your child will never need to wear braces. But it might shorten the duration of treatment needed. The result can mean a stunning smile and healthy teeth and gums.