When it comes to orthodontic problems, early intervention is very important. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children have their first check-up with an orthodontist as soon as an orthodontic problem is detected and no later than age 7 even if there does not seem to be any problems.
At age 6 to 7 years, children have a mix of baby (primary) and permanent teeth. There are some specific orthodontic problems that require early intervention and correction regardless of a child’s age and whether or not he or she still has baby teeth. An orthodontic evaluation includes assessment of the growth and harmony of the jaws and facial bones as well as proper position and eruption of the teeth as baby teeth are being lost and permanent teeth appear in the mouth.
If a problem exists or could be developing, our orthodontist (Dr. Majd) will advise you if and when orthodontic therapy is recommended, the procedures and time extent of the required treatment.
What to expect from initial orthodontic consultation?
In general, the examination includes thorough evaluation and assessment of the size and position of the jaw bones, facial proportions and proper development and position of the teeth. Our systematic approach includes taking specific orthodontic photographs to record and measure jaws and teeth positioning, complete exam of the teeth, mouth and facial structures and any necessary radiographs (x-rays) to evaluate the development of the teeth and jaw bones.
If there is an orthodontic problem, or one could be developing, appropriate intervention is recommended. In most cases where no problems are present or no immediate intervention is required, the proper timing for the next orthodontic check can be determined.
Is there a fee for the initial orthodontic visit?
We offer initial examinations at no cost and no obligation to the patients and families. This initial complimentary visit can save you a significant amount of money and reduce the time and complexity of the orthodontic treatment required at a later time.
In the event that a problem is detected, sometimes our orthodontist will recommend a “wait-and-see” approach, monitoring your child’s growth and development periodically.
Does early treatment mean getting braces?
Early orthodontic treatment does not necessarily include braces. The treatment modality varies based on the nature and extent of the problem that requires correction. The goal of early treatment is to establish a balanced jaw relation and proper environment for the eruption of the permanent teeth.
In some cases, early intervention consists of removal of a stubborn baby tooth, so that the succeeding permanent tooth can arrive in its proper place.
Sometimes it includes training and correction of tongue position during swallowing, while others may need intervention to stop a thumb- or finger-sucking habit with special techniques or appliances.
If a child’s upper jaw is too narrow causing airway and breathing problems, lack of space for the permanent teeth or affecting the growth of lower jaw, treatment could consist of a palate expander to widen the jaw.
Braces are sometimes recommended to optimize tooth and jaw alignment . Our orthodontist, Dr. Majd will recommend the type of treatment she believes is best suited to your child and correcting his/her orthodontic problems.
Will the treatment have to be extended until all the permanent teeth have erupted?
Not necessarily, when the objectives of early treatment are accomplished, your child will need to be monitored as part of our “observation” program to ensure the corrections made are stable and as further jaw growth and eruption of new teeth takes place, the proper balance and harmony of the jaws and teeth is maintained.
Sometimes preventive or interceptive orthodontic treatment is all that your child needs. In other cases a second phase of orthodontic treatment is required to establish proper jaw and bite relation after adolescent growth and/or to align the remaining permanent teeth that erupt later. The second phase is usually shorter and less complicated and extraction of permanent teeth can be avoided as a result of early treatment.