Early Treatment

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At The Village Orthodontist, we believe in using state-of-the-art preventative treatment rather than reactive treatment. Why wait until a problem erupts before receiving care? The experienced and knowledgeable team at The Village Orthodontist can help prevent bad habits before they start. We follow the recommendations from the American Association of Orthodontists and encourage patients to start an initial screening at age seven. This allows us to achieve amazing results in a shorter period of time, since the face and jawbones are typically still developing and not set into place. 

 Orthodontic Problems.

There are several ways that kids can benefit from seeing an orthodontist at an early age. But it's important to recognize that early evaluation isn't necessarily followed by early treatment; in most cases, if orthodontic work is needed, we simply monitor your child's growth patterns until we see that it's time for treatment to begin. This gives us an opportunity to get the best results in the most efficient way, and to help prevent future problems.

Although every child's development is different, in most kids the first adult molars have typically started to emerge by around age six. This, along with other developmental markers, lets us get a handle on the basic alignment of the teeth, from front to back and side to side. It may also be possible at this point to determine whether there is adequate room in the mouth for all of the permanent teeth — and, if not, to take action.

Why Is Early Treatment Important?

While an early evaluation for your child will not always lead to immediate treatment, it is important to have a screening done to prevent future problems from developing. We will monitor your child’s growth and determine the best possible time for metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign (for teens), or other orthodontic appliances. Our office has helped a large number of children and adolescents achieve healthy, beautiful smiles, and we understand the individual needs of every patient we treat. There are circumstances where early treatment may need to be started right away. These include: 

Crossbite.One is severe crossbite, a condition where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. To treat this problem, a device called a palatal expander can be used, which gradually and painlessly widens the upper jaw; it's especially effective when the jaw itself hasn't fully developed. If we wait too long, a more complicated treatment — or even oral surgery — might be required to correct the problem.

 

Crowding.Another condition that may benefit from early treatment is severe crowding. This occurs when the jaws are too small to accommodate all of the permanent teeth. Either palatal expansion or tooth extraction may be recommended at this point, to help the adult teeth erupt (emerge from below the gums) properly. Even if braces are required later, the treatment time will likely be shorter and less complicated.

 

Protruding teeth.Early intervention may also be helpful in resolving several other problems. Protruding teeth, especially in front, can be prone to chipping and fractures; they may also lead to problems with a child's self-image. A severe underbite, caused by the lower jaw growing much larger than the upper jaw, can result in serious bite problems. Orthodontic appliances, including braces and headgear, can be successfully used to correct these problems at this stage, when the child's development is in full swing, thereby increasing the chances that surgery can be avoided.

Correcting Bad Habits

 Dangers of Thumb Sucking.

Every child probably has a few bad habits, but there are some patterns that cause problems with the teeth and mouth. At one time or another, anyone may pick up a bad habit. But there are some situations where a youngster's parafunctional (detrimental to health) habits can actually influence the development and function of his or her teeth, jaws and mouth. Some examples of these are persistent thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing. If your child is a persistent thumb sucker, a tongue thruster, or a mouth breather, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Jon A. Moles as soon as possible. We can help correct any bad habits before they develop into a big problem and stop speech impediments or jaw disorient from developing. 

The sucking reflex is natural in early childhood; it usually disappears between ages 2 and 4. But if it persists much later, the pressure of the digit on the front teeth and the upper jaw can actually cause the teeth to move apart and the jaws to change shape. This can lead to the orthodontic problem called “open bite,” and may impair speech. An open bite can also be caused by the force of the tongue pushing forward against the teeth (tongue thrusting).

Mouth breathing — an abnormal breathing pattern in which the mouth always remains open, passing air directly to the lungs — is related to alterations in the muscular function of the tongue and face. It may cause the upper and lower jaw to grow abnormally, which can lead to serious orthodontic problems. Although mouth breathing may start from a physical difficulty, it can become a habitual action that's hard to break.

Various orthodontic treatments are available to help correct these parafunctional habits — and the sooner they're taken care of, the less damage they may cause. But these potential problems aren't always easy to recognize. That's one more reason why you should bring your child in for an early orthodontic screening.

Contact Us Today!

If you have any questions or concerns, or you would like to schedule an appointment for you or your child, please feel free to contact us by calling (301) 874-4747. Our office is located in Frederick, MD, but we also service the surrounding communities, including Urbana and Clarksburg. We hope to hear from you soon, and we look forward to seeing your smile soon!