Unlocking Healthy Smiles—5 Advantages of Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
The Importance of Early Orthodontic Treatment
While it may initially seem daunting, early orthodontic treatment provides significant benefits for pediatric patients and their families. Below we will discuss the importance of early orthodontic treatment for children and highlight its advantages.
Early orthodontic treatment involves evaluating and treating children who have potential bite problems as young as 6 to 7 years old. During this time, dentists can identify underlying issues that could impact the development of permanent teeth. By detecting these problems early on, dentists can take steps to prevent them from worsening over time.
The dentist will examine the child’s teeth and jaw structure to identify potential issues affecting their bite or alignment. They will also take any necessary X-rays and may use other diagnostic tools to better understand how the child’s mouth is developing.
Impact of Orthodontic Issues on Oral Health
Orthodontic issues can significantly impact children’s oral health, affecting not only the appearance of teeth but also their function. Misaligned teeth can be challenging for the patient to clean, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. In severe cases, orthodontic problems can even contribute to tooth loss.
One way orthodontic issues impact oral health is through the development of cavities. Crooked teeth make it difficult to brush effectively, allowing cavities to form in the hard-to-reach areas.
Gum disease is another potential consequence of untreated orthodontic issues. When teeth are poorly aligned, gums may become inflamed from difficulty cleaning between them properly. This inflammation leads to gingivitis, and, if left untreated over time, periodontal disease can cause irreversible damage in the forms of receding gums and bone loss around affected teeth.
Patients with orthodontic problems may also experience jaw pain due to uneven chewing pressure. Over time this constant stress could lead to temporomandibular joint disorder, causing chronic jaw pain and headaches, among other symptoms.
The following treatment options are available for orthodontic issues:
- Braces: This involves using fixed braces or clear aligners to guide the growth of permanent teeth into their proper positions.
- Appliances: Expanders, for example, can widen the upper jaw in children with narrow palates to allow space for adult teeth.
- Headgear: Headgear can move molars backward to create room for crowded front teeth.
Benefits of Addressing Orthodontic Issues Early On
Interceptive orthodontics is the best way to correct orthodontic issues before they worsen. Early treatment is beneficial in the following ways:
1. Early Identification of Health Issues
Early evaluation allows dentists to identify problems before they become more serious. For example, if a child has overcrowded or crooked teeth, addressing these issues with braces or other treatments early can prevent them from causing additional complications like gum disease.
2. Parents Stay Informed
An early orthodontic evaluation provides parents with valuable information about their child’s oral health and development. By understanding what issues need attention now versus later, parents can make informed decisions about available treatment options, timing, and budget concerns.
3. Reduced Need for Extensive Treatment
One significant advantage is reducing the need for more extensive treatment later in life. Dental misalignments become harder to fix once patients reach adulthood, so treatment during childhood, when bones are still developing, is in the best interest of the patient.
In addition to reduced need for extensive treatments like surgeries later in life, interceptive orthodontics such as expanders improve facial aesthetics by correcting overcrowding and spacing while boosting the patient’s self-confidence.
4. Cost Savings
Addressing problems earlier rather than later can significantly reduce future dental expenses. Parents can curb out-of-pocket costs related to their children’s orthodontic treatment and eliminate the need for surgically assisted palatal expansion later on.
5. Improved Oral Health
Children with crooked or unevenly spaced teeth are at increased risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss due to difficulty cleaning these areas properly. Early orthodontic treatment helps address these issues before they have time to escalate.
The Pediatric and General Dentist’s Role in Early Ortho Treatment
It’s essential that pediatric dentists and general dentists identify potential orthodontic concerns early on and make appropriate referrals or address them themselves once they have completed the necessary training. Working together as a team with the patient’s parents provides optimal patient care while improving communication between all parties involved. The roles include:
Communicating With Parents and Children About Treatment Options
When communicating about early orthodontic treatment options, keep things simple. Explain what will happen during each treatment step so parents and patients alike know what they can expect from start to finish.
Encouraging Open Dialogue Throughout Every Stage of Treatment
Ensure parents feel comfortable asking questions whenever something comes up, and make sure that kids understand why certain treatments are needed and how they will benefit them in the long run. Keeping an upbeat attitude goes a long way too.
Putting It Into Practice
Early orthodontic treatment improves oral health while reducing the need for extensive treatments later in life. Pediatric and general dentists play critical roles in identifying potential problems early on and making appropriate referrals or addressing them in their practices. Consider adding orthodontics to your practice today and take advantage of online orthodontic courses and orthodontic training programs, like Synergy Orthodontic Seminars, that offer courses on interceptive orthodontics.