Project Description

Pediatric Orthodontist

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Pediatric Orthodontist

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Odhner Orthodontics is the area’s fastest growing pediatric orthodontist. Let’s explore the importance of early assessment and treatment.

WHAT is Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Your child’s first visit should be at age 7. This is because a pediatric orthodontist can easily treat some conditions at this age which, if left untreated, may later need surgery to correct. During Early Treatment (sometimes called Interceptive or Phase 1 Treatment) the main objectives are to guide proper tooth and jaw growth which we can usually do without full braces. Not every child will require early treatment, but early evaluation will allow us to monitor for problems as they arise so they can be addressed at the optimal time.

WHY is an Early Orthodontic Evaluation Needed?

  • Facilitate Tooth Eruption: Baby teeth play an important role in guiding the permanent teeth that come after them. If baby teeth are lost too early or too late, the adult teeth may become “impacted.” This is when a tooth becomes stuck in the jaw bone. If this occurs, it typically requires pulling baby teeth, additional surgery, and extended time in braces later. Therefore, in order to avoid more invasive treatment, it is necessary to monitor the loss of baby teeth.
  • Monitor Jaw Development: A pediatric orthodontist is trained to help guide the growth of upper and lower jaws. This is important both to create a balanced facial structure and to ensure that the jaws reach their maximum growth potential. Without optimal jaw growth at this age, there is usually not enough room for the adult teeth to come in which may require some adult teeth to be pulled and/or jaw surgery may also be needed to properly correct the bite at a later age. Therefore, in order to avoid unnecessary surgical procedures, it is important that we see children before their growth spurt is complete.
  • Eliminate Oral Habits: Some common habits in children, such as thumb or finger sucking, can have negative effects on both the growth of your child’s jaws and the development of their adult teeth. In order to avoid causing permanent damage, a pediatric orthodontist can use a simple appliance to help stop a harmful habit if it still exists at the age of 7.

WHEN is Early Orthodontic Treatment Recommended?

  • First Visit: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends your child schedule their first visit to the pediatric orthodontist when they are 7 years old. At this age of dental development, we monitor your child for the problems listed above with the advantage of being able to intervene as needed. If early treatment is recommended at this age, it typically lasts a year or less. Whether or not early treatment is recommended, Dr. Odhner will continue to see your child every 6 months to monitor the eruption of your child’s permanent teeth.
  • Full Braces: Once your child has lost all of their baby teeth, usually around the age of 11-14 years old, it may then be time to begin full orthodontic treatment. This typically consists of braces on the upper and lower teeth in order to move them into their final position. This phase of treatment can last anywhere from 6 months to 36 months, but on average will last about one and a half to two years.

Orthodontic Treatment Types

TYPES of Early Orthodontic Treatment

Most problems that need to be corrected at an early age do not require full upper and lower braces but instead can be treated with the use of these simple appliances:
  • Space Maintainers: These are simple bars that are glued into your child’s mouth to help hold space for the permanent teeth to come in.
  • Palatal expanders: This is an appliance that is used to help the upper jaw grow wider to help create room for the adult teeth to come in.
  • Headgear: This is a removable appliance that is worn only at home and is used to correct improper jaw growth.
  • Facemask: This is another type of removable appliance that is worn at home and is also used to correct improper jaw growth.
  • Thumb Crib: A thumb crib is an appliance that is glued into your child’s mouth to act as a gentle reminder not to suck on their thumb, finger, or sometimes even their tongue.
  • Limited Braces: Braces are placed only on the top front teeth to help correct improper tooth alignment.

BENEFITS of Early Orthodontic Treatment Summary

  • Better prognosis for how the permanent teeth will develop
  • The ability to correct harmful oral habits before they cause permanent development problems
  • Correct bite problems to prevent damage to the surrounding gums
  • Eliminate any shifting of the jaw to prevent uneven growth of the joints
  • The ability to guide the growth of the jaws in order to make room for erupting teeth
  • Lowering the risk of damage to any flared or protruded teeth
  • The ability to improve your child’s appearance and self confidence
  • Alleviating more invasive dental correction procedures, such as the removal of permanent teeth and jaw surgery

PROBLEMS that Require Early Treatment Summary

For a complete list with visual examples, click here to see Who Needs Orthodontics
  • Oral habits, such as thumb or finger sucking
  • Flared or protrusion of the upper teeth
  • Crossbite of the teeth
  • Crowding of the teeth
  • Shifting of the jaw when biting
  • Early or delayed loss of baby teeth
  • Psycho-social concerns caused by bullying