Preparing your child's great smile!

Early Orthodontic Treatment

Starting Orthodontic Treatment in Children

A child’s smile is a beautiful thing- so vivacious and full of hope, but also can be easily manipulated. This is simultaneously bad and good news. On the one hand, their smile can become misaligned and create bad formation for incoming adult teeth. But at the same time, this also means that those who start orthodontics earlier will require much less effort and treatment as their teeth will easily be adjusted into proper alignment. Here at RJ Orthodontics, we highly encourage all parents to begin their child’s orthodontic treatment before adolescence as a form of preventative care. We are proud to serve the good people of Austin, Steiner Ranch and other neighboring communities, as we love seeing your children smile. Read below for more information about your child’s incoming teeth and how they relate to orthodontics.

The Best Time to Begin Orthodontics

Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.

So why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?

By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.

Benefits of Early Orthodontic Evaluation

Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.

Advantages of Interceptive Treatment

Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time with braces

Candidates for Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.

Reasons to Treat Malocclusions

As stated above, malocclusions are the jaw misalignments that form in the mouth and create what we often call bad bites (underbite, overbite, etc.). According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems:

  • Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
  • Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.
  • Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.
  • Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.
  • Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile – it creates a healthier you.

Palatal Expander

One specific way with which we treat misaligned jaws is the palatal expander. This orthodontic appliance is used to broaden the upper jaw of a child’s mouth so that their bottom and upper jaws will fit better together. While this treatment can be used on a patient at any age, it is often recommended to use this treatment for children, as it is known to cause more discomfort in adults. Watch the video below to see how the palatal expander works.

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