Prevention Is Key

By visiting an orthodontist early, problems such as severe overcrowding, crossbite, overbite, and lack of arch development can be caught and fixed. At this time, any need for dentofacial orthopedic work (repairing imbalances of the face and jaw and normalizing growth of bone structure) can be recognized and planned for before the situation becomes worse or irreparable. Below is an example of how early treatment can prevent more extensive, serious treatment later on.

In some cases, a child will start to lose teeth early, have an atypical eruption pattern or require teeth extractions. When this happens, space needs to be maintained so that the adult teeth have the space they need to grow properly. If space is lost, the child can spend a more extended period of time in braces. In short, by conducting a simple treatment at an early age, a simple treatment is required later.

Early treatment can generally be broken down into either skeletal modification – that which is targeted at changed the relationship between the upper and the lower jaw and/or dental modification.

Dental Modification

Space Maintenance

This is especially important in cases where baby teeth were lost or removed early. Loss of space may lead to the need for removal of adult teeth in the future or prolonged treatment time during teenage years.

Space Regaining

When space has been lost at an early age (as described above), it may be possible to regain this space prior to eruption of the remaining adult teeth. Space management cannot be emphasized enough, as it is probably the single leading cause of adult tooth extractions in the future.

Elimination of Habits

Tongue Thrusting

This often leads to an open bite (where the upper and lower front teeth don’t meet because the tongue is preventing proper eruption). If not addressed early, future correction involving surgery may be needed.

Thumb Sucking

Depending on the severity of the habit, skeletal development may be altered, resulting in constriction of the upper jaw (crossbite), excessive forward movement of upper front teeth, and abnormal eruption of permanent teeth.

Dental Crossbite Correction

This usually occurs when one or multiple teeth are stuck behind one another. When this problem occurs, a very high risk of developing what is known as traumatic occlusion happens. When teeth are in traumatic occlusion, common findings include tooth mobility (loose teeth) and periodontal defects (gum defects such as recession). In most cases, this traumatic relationship should be eliminated as soon as it is observed.

Skeletal Modification

Crossbite Correction

A crossbite exists when the upper jaw is either too wide or too narrow in relation to the lower jaw. An abnormal relationship in width between the upper and lower jaws may lead to abnormal tooth wear, abnormal lower jaw function, and facial asymmetry, as it forces the lower jaw to deviate from the center line of the face. This is usually an easy problem to fix at an early age, and one which may be very hard to fix once growth stops.

Correction of an Underbite

This problem usually presents with an appearance of a lower jaw which is ahead of the upper jaw, a.k.a. “bulldog face.” If left untreated, future correction often involves surgery.

Correction of an Excessive Overjet

Large distance between upper and lower teeth. This is a very common type of a malocclusion which often presents with an appearance of a lower jaw which is set too far back and upper teeth which “stick out.” When diagnosed early, this type of a skeletal discrepancy can be addressed with an orthopedic appliance.

Signs Your Child May Need Early Treatment

While only a certified dental professional will be able to let you know for sure, if you observe any of the following in your child, make an appointment for them with us ASAP.

  • Difficulty chewing/biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth
  • Unevenly spaced teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Thumb sucking or finger sucking past age 3

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Clifton Park Office
939 Route 146
Building 400, Suite 4
Clifton Park, NY 12065

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Albany, NY 12203

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713 Troy-Schenectady Rd
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