Heading off Orthodontic Problems at the Pass

child getting a dental checkup

Many is the time that the good guys in Western movies get one step ahead of the bad guys to thwart disaster.

If orthodontic treatment was a Western, the orthodontists would be the good guys or gals, and malocclusion (bad bite) would play the role of the bad guys.

Instead of horses and guns, we have an arsenal of appliances and interceptive orthodontic treatments that when deployed early enough, can head off bigger, more expensive problems at the pass. But they don’t do any good if problems aren’t identified in time. That is why an orthodontic evaluation at age 7 is important. By this age, children have a mixture of baby and adult teeth, and the bite is established. X-rays and photographs taken at this stage give us a clear picture into a child’s oral development.

Typically, no treatment is necessary at this time. However, in situations where certain types of malocclusion or other dental development problems are identified, interceptive treatment can help prevent tooth extractions and more extensive treatments in the future – including jaw surgery.

The most powerful tool in use during interceptive treatment is your child’s growth. We guide growth to correct malocclusion by creating more space, promoting or inhibiting jaw growth, thwarting poor oral habits and correcting facial asymmetry. Interceptive treatment often reduces the time your child spends in braces in the future. For children who have severely protruding front teeth, interceptive treatment can reduce trauma risk to those protruded upper front teeth.

Following are some common interceptive treatments:

Space maintainers
Baby teeth help maintain space for the adult teeth to erupt. A child who loses a baby tooth prematurely may need a space maintainer to prevent neighboring teeth from drifting into the area of the lost tooth and creating crowding issues when the adult tooth erupts.

Sometimes children are born without some of their adult teeth and we must maintain space for replacement teeth at the appropriate time.

This orthodontic device helps us address overbite. It encourages lower jaw growth by preventing the upper jaw from growing too far forward. This appliance enables us to quickly create a more ideal relationship between the upper and lower jaws.

It attaches to the back molars of the upper jaw with bands that are cemented into place.

Palatal expander

A child’s palate may be too narrow to accommodate all of a child’s teeth, and that could also cause some serious breathing issues. Due to the child’s age, the palate can be expanded to create more room for adult teeth or to correct a crossbite. A palatal expander is secured into place by cementing it to the upper molars. Expansion screws in the appliance are activated to slowly stretch the bone and cartilage, and widen the arch. The expansion is done by inserting a key into the expander and turning it. It is common for your child to develop a gap between the front teeth after the expander has been in place for a while. This is a good sign that shows the expander is performing its duty properly.

Learn More

Do you have a 7-year-old who hasn’t been evaluated by an Alpharetta orthodontist? Please call today to schedule a consultation and learn whether interceptive treatment is recommended.