Early Orthodontic Care Adds Value to a Young Smile
Conscientious dentistry is all about early treatment. We would rather treat a small cavity than a need to treat the deep infection. By that same token, we prefer to help young patients avoid the pitfalls of misalignment and malocclusion than having to correct severe abnormalities after the jaw has fully developed. The field of orthodontics has evolved a great deal over the years, and we now have the opportunity to work alongside natural development to promote better oral health.
Benefits of Early Orthodontics
Early orthodontic evaluation and care may be referred to as functional orthodontics, or interceptive or interventional orthodontics. By any name, the general principals are the same, to intercede with the growth of the jaw and of teeth so that alignment is more likely. One of the noted benefits of early care is that the patient will require less of traditional orthodontia later (called the second phase). Wearing braces for a shorter duration is good, but there’s more . . .
Early orthodontic treatment
- Guides the optimal growth of the jaw
- Reduces injury risk to front teeth that have begun to protrude
- Corrects poor oral habits such as tongue thrusting or thumb-sucking
- Improves jaw and lip positioning
- Improves a child’s self-esteem related to appearance
When and What?
The American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation is that children obtain a thorough orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. This evaluation goes beyond the routine dental exam, and should be conducted by a professional with specific orthodontic training and experience.
What a child needs will depend on his or her oral development. In some cases, the approach taken is to monitor tooth or jaw growth over time. Some patients exhibit telltale signs that interceptive orthodontics would be valuable at a younger age. These include protruding front teeth, crowding, or cross-bite. Children who suck their thumb or tongue-thrust are good candidates for early care, as well, as are patients whose upper or lower jaw is too far forward or back. Each of these, in addition to other orthodontic symptoms, can be corrected with functional appliances tailored to individual need.
The Department of Dentistry at Montefiore Medical Center provides personalized dental care to patients of all ages. Learn more about early orthodontic care when you visit one of our Bronx, NY locations.