Why and When
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children should have an orthodontic screening by the age of 7.
Things have changed since the past two decades, where going to the orthodontist probably wasn’t mentioned until you had all your permanent teeth (12 to 13 years). When you finally went to the orthodontist you might have had teeth extracted because there was not enough room for all of them or there was a need to wear braces for a long period of time. Treatment usually starts later but accurate timing is essential. This is possible only if the child is already under the expert’s care and observation. Since girls mature earlier, treatment may start at the age of 8 to 10 years while a boy may be treated at 10 to 11 years of age or even later.
Why do you need ‘Early Orthodontic’ screening?
Dr Milind Darda emphasizes on early orthodontic screening and treatment as Children can benefit enormously from an early phase of treatment, while they are growing actively during early growth spurts. During this period the children have mixed dentition (few milk teeth as well as some permanent teeth present in the mouth).
Special appliances can be used at this stage to influence the growth relationship of the jaws themselves. (This is not possible when all the permanent teeth have already erupted into the mouth).
Latest techniques and modern Orthodontic Appliances have made it even easier to treat younger patients, with safe and painless growth modifying appliances.
Prevention is better than cure.
Some things to look out for, where Early Treatment is required- Indicated:
Overbite – upper front teeth overlap lower teeth
Deepbite – upper front teeth cover up lower teeth when biting down
Underbite – lower front teeth overlap upper teeth
Openbite – upper and lower teeth do not come together when biting down
Spacing – gaps between the teeth
Protruding Front Teeth – upper front teeth inclined forwards abnormally
Crossbite – lower teeth or tooth is on the inside of the upper teeth
Crowding – crowding is when you see twist and turns of the teeth or teeth may come in front of or back of other teeth.
Advantages of Early Treatment (also called as Phase I treatment)
Minimizes the need for tooth extraction.
In a large number of patients, a successful Phase I treatment ensures that all permanent teeth get accommodated and more often there is no need to extract permanent teeth at a later stage for creating space.
Protection of protruding front teeth from damage and trauma.
Front teeth that protrude forward are likely to get injured leading to severe dental trauma. (Broken/chipped teeth may require specialized treatment i.e. root canal treatment). Early orthodontic treatment corrects such teeth rapidly thereby prevents permanent damage.
Aesthetic and functional development in early years.
Patients can get rid of their buck-toothed, bunny-rabbit appearance. This tremendous facial improvement is always accompanied by a wonderful personality change. Thus, there is not only a dental but also a mental advantage too. These conditions go unnoticed if you wait till 12 years of age.
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