Early Orthodontic Treatment
EARLY ORTHOPEDIC-ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT (AGES 3-10)
How will early treatment benefit my child in the future?
The early years are crucial to guide and stimulate the growth of the facial bones when they are deficient. When only baby teeth are present, the recommended treatment is called orthopedics (the correction of deformities of bones or muscles). After orthopedics, orthodontics (prevention and correction of crooked teeth) may still be needed.
At this early age the main focus is on modifying facial growth, known as dentofacial orthopedics.
Here is an example of forward growth stimulation of the upper jaw (Maxilla) with orthopedics:
Jaw growth deficiency increases the risk of airway problems. Forward stimulation of maxillary growth is optimal to support nasal breathing.
Other examples of common problems that need to be corrected in young children are:
1. Small and retrusive upper jaw (Maxilla)
After orthopedic maxillary protraction using reverse pull headgear.
Orthopedic treatment can be started as young as 3 years old, for the best results, this correction should be before the patient is 9 years old.
Patients showing their cute & cool reverse pull headgear!
2. Narrow dental arches
The roof of the mouth (the palate) needs to be wide enough to allow space for all the permanent teeth and to accommodate the tongue. This will allow an adequate airway during wakefulness and sleep.
Unilateral/bilateral posterior crossbite: Upper teeth sit inside of bottom teeth on one or both sides. Some causes of a crossbite are habits such as thumb/finger sucking, prolonged use of pacifier, swallowing in an abnormal way or an upper airway obstruction. Possible consequences if not treated include the jaw shifting to one side to bite and/or lopsided jaw growth (asymmetric facial growth).
3. No spaces between baby teeth
No spaces between the baby teeth is an indication of future complications and/or crowding in the adult dentition. It is ideal to have spaces between the baby teeth.
This is an example of orthopedic treatment with expansion. This treatment obtained the needed space by developing/growing patient’s jaws, so patient will have enough space for the adult teeth.
4. Flared upper front teeth (Buck Teeth)
Flared teeth can have an impact on a patient's appearance. It also increases the risk of those teeth being exposed to dental trauma.
The Invisalign First treatment with the mandibular advancement feature, guides the mandible to grow/come forward and decreases the overjet (horizontal distance between upper & lower front teeth).
5. Airway Issues
Some indicators of airway issues include mouth breathing, vertical face growth, snoring, ADD/ ADHD, bed wetting, poor school or work performance, allergies, asthma, swollen tonsils/adenoids, chronic ear/sinus infections, or stunted growth.
Consequences of Chronic Mouth Breathing
6. Poor oral habits
Poor oral habits can include tongue thrust (forward/lateral posture of tongue while swallowing), lower lip resting behind upper front teeth, chewing with mouth open, and thumb/finger sucking.
Tongue thrust/anterior openbite
Tongue thrust/posterior openbite
7. Esthetic Concerns
Middle school age children look at their facial appearance to boost their self-esteem and confidence. Crooked teeth can negatively influence these emotions. Depending on the severity of the problem, early treatment may be needed.
8. Gingival (gum) problems
9y.o. with gingival recession on lower incisor After Phase I orthodontic treatment with partial front braces
Gingival improvement was achieved by correcting the misalignment of teeth.