When it comes to our children, there are a lot of questions and concerns to navigate throughout their lives. Some common concerns we hear from parents and caregivers involve their child’s smiles—how to keep their teeth strong and healthy, how often they should visit the dentist, and if orthodontic care might become necessary at some point. Fortunately, our team can help! Although orthodontics is often associated with teens, treatment can actually benefit patients of all ages, including children. The American Association of Orthodontists even recommends that every child has an orthodontic evaluation by around the age of 7. However, many people have questions about the benefits of early orthodontic treatment.
Here at Smith & Heymann Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer patients of all ages an initial consultation at no charge. For young children, this visit will include an assessment of their oral health and development. During this evaluation, Dr. Smith, Dr. Heymann, or Dr. Skillestad will be checking for anything out of the ordinary that could signify treatment may be necessary, either now or in the future. Identifying orthodontic issues early on gives our team the chance to correct them before they develop into something requiring more intensive treatment. This gives children the best chance at a lifetime of healthy smiles!
An orthodontic evaluation for children between the ages of six and nine can lead to early detection of possible problems and may prompt what we call interceptive orthodontics to correct them. Let’s take a closer look at what that means and how it can help your child achieve and maintain a beautifully aligned smile! Keep reading below for more information on the benefits of early orthodontic treatment.
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics, also known as Phase I orthodontics, allows an experienced orthodontist to detect any disturbances in jaw growth or tooth development at an age when we can more easily address them. This can be achieved with orthodontic treatment that will create space to guide the proper development and eruption of the permanent teeth, as well as favorably enhance the growth of the child’s jaw.
This type of early intervention can make certain issues easier to prevent and treat by promoting a more optimal relationship between the teeth and jaws. With the proper monitoring and intervention, children are left with straighter, more symmetrical, and healthier smiles!
What are the benefits of interceptive orthodontics?
There is a multitude of benefits that come as a result of interceptive orthodontics. During your child’s initial orthodontic exam, Drs. Smith, Heymann, or Skillestad will thoroughly inspect their teeth and jaws. Treatment may be recommended if it appears that:
- Your child will be prone to a particular problem that we want to keep from developing
- Your child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept or
- Your child’s jawbones may need a bit of guidance as they grow
Most orthodontic issues are genetic, but some can be acquired. Inherited problems usually include crowded teeth or teeth with too much space between them, extra or missing teeth, and other irregularities of the jaws, teeth, and face.
Acquired malocclusions can be caused by accidental trauma, extended thumb sucking, pacifier use, dental disease, and premature tooth loss. Regardless of the issues your child is dealing with, they can affect the alignment of the teeth and the facial development and appearance. Interceptive orthodontics addresses each of these aspects and can help your child achieve a smile that gives them confidence.
What are some examples of interceptive orthodontics?
Early orthodontic exams don’t always lead to treatment. Immediate treatment is actually recommended for only a small fraction of the young patients we evaluate. Even when treatment is indicated, that doesn’t necessarily mean putting the child into braces right away. Many Phase I treatments don’t involve brackets, wires, and bands at all! Examples of this may include:
- Removing one or more primary teeth to help guide the proper placement of permanent teeth
- Using expanders to help widen the upper jaw and treat extremely crowded teeth
- Placing teeth spacers to help save a spot for permanent teeth if a primary tooth is lost early due to injury or decay
Here at Smith & Heymann Orthodontics, we follow the normal patterns of childhood growth and development as we believe this gives us the best chance to tackle orthodontic issues at the most optimal time. Many problems can be treated relatively easily in a child whose mouth is still developing but could require more invasive treatment as they get older and their jawbones stop growing.
Interceptive orthodontics can often achieve lasting results for many of these issues and may lessen the impact of others. Most patients will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process, however.
Give your child’s smile a headstart with Smith & Heymann Orthodontics
When you schedule your child for an early orthodontic evaluation with our offices in Durham, Chapel Hill, Mebane, or Roxboro, you’re giving them the best chance at a healthy smile that looks good and feels great! Even if our doctors do not detect any oral issues initially, there are several benefits to visiting an orthodontist regularly throughout childhood. These check-ups allow us to:
- Monitor the progress of emerging teeth
- Monitor the progress of facial and jaw development
- Reduce the risk of jaw surgery in the future
- Guide incoming teeth into the ideal position
- Detect hidden dental problems
- Reduce the risk of impacted teeth
- Reduce the risk of permanent tooth extractions
Early orthodontic evaluations are great because they allow us to proactively approach a child’s orthodontic care, rather than reactively! This puts us in a better position to give young patients the care and treatment they need at the time it will benefit them the most.
Your child’s smile is as unique as they are, and we know that what works well for one patient may not be a good fit for another. That’s why we create a customized treatment plan for every child, built around their specific needs and goals.
If you have a young child who may benefit from interceptive orthodontics, we would love to help! Get in touch today to schedule a FREE orthodontic evaluation with our team of orthodontic experts. Your child’s smile deserves the best, and that’s exactly what we’ll give them!