The Importance of early screening by an orthodontist
Quite often I am asked by parents, “Why do some of my children’s peers have braces already? They’re only in 3rd grade!?” It’s a great question of course, because in the past only children in middle or high school ever had braces.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children at least begin screening with an orthodontist around the age of 7. Although most general dental practitioners are very good at spotting these potential developmental concerns and making recommendations, you do not need a “referral” to begin this process with your child. As a child develops, certain dental milestones should occur within the time frames expected to ensure normal skeletal and dental development. An orthodontist, given the opportunity, can recognize an interruption in this “normal” developmental cycle and intervene to correct the abnormal development. This gives your child a better chance of avoiding longer and more complicated treatment needs later in the middle or high school years. For example, many times early intervention can prevent the need for permanent tooth extraction, asymmetric jaw growth or impaction of permanent canines.
Rest assured, if your child is developing normally, there will be no “need” to begin early orthodontic treatment and your orthodontist will place your child on a recall system to continue to monitor their growth and development. In our office these monitoring recalls are completed at “no charge”. Having spent 30 years watching children develop, Dr. Moles has learned that a very conservative approach to treating developmental issues is best and we rarely initiate staged care involving braces. Should your child display the need for orthodontic intervention staged care will be recommended utilizing palatal expanders and limited braces to correct the growth and development discrepancies and is furthermore, reserved for children with serious developmental concerns. Generally, recommending strategic extraction of certain primary teeth to “game” development of erupting permanent teeth is the most common intervention and does not require “braces”. An exciting addition to our options for treatment of the developing dentition is Invisalign’s newest product Invisalign First. A series of removable aligners are designed to be worn throughout the developing years to assist with improved guidance of erupting adult teeth. Utilizing removable therapy in a growing child has many benefits including the ability to maintain better oral hygiene throughout the process eliminating the risk of cavities and gum inflammations commonly associated with “fixed” appliances.
So the next time you see a young child with braces, the likely answer is that child had a real need for intervention and you will likely see that child in braces again, in Middle school.
To schedule your complimentary evaluation visit villageorthodontist.com or call my office at 301-874-4747, I will be happy to meet with you and your child.