Updated: Apr 8
Orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics. Intervention may begin as early as age 5 - 7. At this age, teeth are still developing. The jaw is in its growth period. That means certain conditions, such as crowding, and potential for misalignment may be easier to catch and address.
Before permanent teeth are positioned in the mouth, it may be possible to help these teeth to erupt (to come through the gums) into more ideal positioning. For example, it is quite common for a child’s jaw to be too small or narrow to fit all of the upcoming permanent teeth. Historically, the solution for overcrowding was almost always to extract some of the permanent teeth to make space and place fixed metallic braces to position the teeth properly.
Early intervention simply takes advantage of this period while the child's jaw is still growing. Devices such as a palatal expander may be used to expand a narrow upper dental arch that may have been caused by excessive thumb sucking or simply genetics. Once the child’s arch is the proper size and shape, it allows the adult teeth to emerge into the dental arch in a desired position. Even so, there may be instances where teeth may still be crowded after all of them have erupted, even after an expanded arch. In these cases, some permanent teeth inevitably need to be extracted to make the extra room in order to align all the teeth properly.
Early orthodontic treatment may also be useful when the dental arches and jaws are not in the correct position. Devices called, functional appliances are recommended to fix or at least improve these problems. In some cases, another phase of orthodontic treatment usually is needed later on, but it may be shorter and less invasive than if nothing had initially been done.
Interceptive orthodontics acts as a guiding course of treatment so it is important to understand that in general these children may still need braces or other orthodontic appliances later. However, this early course of treatment is able to shorten and simplify future treatment in most cases. This is commonly known as two-phase orthodontic treatment. Only an experienced and child focussed team is able to recommend such treatment and at Artiste Studios you are guaranteed to have access to such a team oriented treatment for your child.
Two conditions that require early intervention are crossbites and protruding front teeth. A crossbite can cause the jaws to grow unevenly. Front teeth that stick out may be fractured or injured in an accident, such as a fall or while playing sports. A narrow, V-shaped dental arch is another common condition where early orthodontics plays an important role.
Early treatment can help to reduce treatment times and distress during later adolescent years. An absolutely painless assessment -with no poking around! -can determine if a child can benefit from early interceptive treatment. Scheduling an orthodontic screening for your child at Artiste Studios is an excellent way to provide the very best care and ensure the success of your child’s smile in the years to come. Contact the practice today and enquire about school screening programs to find out if your child’s school qualifies.