Orthodontics for Children

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Orthodontics for Children

Interceptive (Early) Treatment

There are some types of orthodontic problems that are best addressed as early as seven years of age. One of the most common types of early treatment is expansion of the upper jaw. This is necessary when the upper jaw, or maxilla, is too narrow to fit well with the lower jaw. At the early childhood ages, this expansion can be accomplished predictably and painlessly. If left unaddressed until adolescence, the maxillary expansion may not be able to be done with a predictable result, or may require surgery to correct.

Other types of early interceptive treatment include correction of crowding, retraction of upper teeth that are too protrusive and may be at increased risk of fracture from trauma, and early correction of disfiguring tooth mal-relationships when they are adversely affecting the patient's developing self-image.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an evaluation by age seven. If in doubt as to whether or not your child has an orthodontic problem that may require early treatment, we would be glad to perform a simple examination to determine the nature of the problem. This is a courtesy visit.

Adolescent Treatment

The ideal time for most patients to start "braces" is between the ages of 10 and 12. The dental development from patient to patient is extremely variable, and females typically mature dentally about six months ahead of males. This stage of orthodontic treatment may involve not only braces, but also other appliances, such as Pendex appliances to move molars back, Herbst appliances to help correct poor lower jaw relationships, and other adjunctive appliances. Typical treatment times range from 15 to 30 months, depending on the type and severity of the problem.

Facts about Orthodontic Treatment for Growing Children

  1. Why should children have an orthodontic screening no later than age seven?

  2. What are the benefits of interceptive treatment?

  3. What is a space maintainer?

  4. Why do baby teeth sometimes need to be pulled?

  5. How can a child's growth affect orthodontic treatment?

  6. What kinds of orthodontic appliances are typically used to correct jaw-growth problems?

  7. I've just heard about the Herbst appliance. How could it help my son who has an underdeveloped lower jaw?

  8. Can my child play sports while wearing braces?

  9. Will my braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

  10. Why does orthodontic treatment time sometimes last longer than anticipated?

  11. Why are retainers needed after orthodontic treatment?

  12. Will my child's tooth alignment change later?

  13. What about the wisdom teeth (third molars) – should they be removed?

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