It’s become so common to see teenagers and older adolescents wearing braces to straighten their crooked teeth, that maybe you’ve begun to think of it as an inevitable right passage. Like acne, angst and puppy love. Truth be told, though, wearing braces does not have to be a fact of your teen’s life. In many cases, it’s possible to eliminate (or at least) bite or alignment issues that could require braces. How? By taking your child to an orthodontist in Irvine early. Let us explain.
At Irvine Orthodontics, you can consult with an orthodontist near you who specializes in interceptive orthodontics – an approach to orthodontic treatment that doesn’t just respond to alignment problems affecting teeth and jaws but tries to prevent them from developing in the first place.
A clinic that practices children’s dentistry near you will help children correct issues that could lead to alignment issues later. What sorts of issues are those? There are three particularly common examples that parents of young children and toddlers should be aware of: narrow jaws, abnormal jaw alignment and missing baby teeth. All those issues can produce orthodontic problems that could require braces in the future… but not necessarily.
The shape and size of the bones in our skull and face play a significant role in our appearance, health and dental development. That is especially true when it comes to the size and shape of an infant’s jaw. If an infant’s jaw is too small to accommodate her future complement of teeth (baby or permanent teeth), those teeth may become overcrowded and misaligned. That could create issues with speech development and teeth and jaw alignment. If an unusually narrow jaw is diagnosed early enough, your orthodontist can take advantage of the separation in the bones in the roof of a child’s mouth at a young age by using a palate expander to gently widen the child’s jaw. It sounds dramatic, but it’s far less so than future orthodontic work that it can prevent the need for.
Jaw alignment abnormalities
No two infants are alike. That’s true when it comes to personality, appearance, potential and even anatomy. In some cases, an infant’s jaw may develop in a way that could complicate her future dental health and development. One example of abnormal development is when one jaw in a child’s mouth extends too far beyond the other. Before that abnormal development can complicate her future dental development, orthodontists can use a hinged device called a Herbst appliance to intercept and redirect those abnormal growth patterns and to encourage your child’s jawbones and muscles to grow in a more typical manner that will ease her future dental development.
Missing baby teeth
A child’s baby teeth play a more important role in the health and alignment of their future adult teeth than many people realize. Those baby teeth create and maintain space in a child’s jaw for those future permanent teeth to grow and take root in their proper location and position. If your child has lost baby teeth prematurely due to tooth decay or injury, don’t ignore those gaps in her smile. An orthodontist can quickly place a space maintainer in the gap to keep other teeth from shifting into the wrong positions and to avoid messing up the slots for your child’s future adult teeth.
Parents interested in reducing or eliminating the risk that their child may need to wear braces in the future – and isn’t that every parent out there!? – should take their child to an orthodontist before they’re older than seven years old. Even if no problems have been diagnosed or noticed yet, let your orthodontist take a close look to make sure no problems are developing. Ask your dentist who practices children’s dentistry in Irvine to recommend an orthodontist to meet your child.