If you tend to think of a teen in braces whenever you hear the word “orthodontics,” you’re certainly not alone. This stereotype has been around forever, which is no surprise since teenagers make up a significant percentage of orthodontic patients. But the truth is, that patients of all ages can benefit from orthodontic care, including children. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child has an orthodontic evaluation by around age seven.
If you have younger children, this recommendation may surprise you. After all, most kids still have developing mouths and several baby teeth left. However, that’s what makes these childhood evaluations meaningful! Identifying oral issues early in life allows us to correct them before they become more of a problem. That’s where our team comes in!
Here at Lake Jackson Orthodontics, we use a preventative approach whenever possible to give young patients the best chance at a lifetime of healthy smiles. When you schedule a consultation for your child with Dr. McGrory, he’ll assess their oral health and development up to that point. He’ll also keep an eye out for anything unusual that may signify further attention is warranted, whether now or in the future. When we find possible problems between the ages of 6-9, it can prompt something called interceptive orthodontics. Let’s take a closer look at what that means and how it can improve your child’s smile!
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics is sometimes referred to as Phase I orthodontics. It allows an orthodontist to identify and diagnose any issues with jaw growth or tooth development at the ideal age for the best results. Treatment in this phase can:
- Create space for the proper eruption of the permanent teeth
- Enhance the growth of a child’s jaw
- Promote a healthier relationship between the teeth and jaws
- Give the child a straighter and more symmetrical smile
- Improve the child’s overall oral health.
Who can benefit from interceptive orthodontics?
Dr. McGrory may recommend interceptive orthodontics for several reasons. Once he’s inspected your child’s teeth and jaws, he may discuss this option with you if it appears that:
- Your child will be prone to a problem we want to prevent
- Your child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept
- Your child’s jawbones look to need some guidance as they grow
Many orthodontic issues are genetic. This includes crowded teeth, excess spacing, missing teeth, and other irregularities. In some cases, problems can be acquired. This may happen when there’s a traumatic injury, extended thumb-sucking or pacifier use, or premature tooth loss, among other causes. However it occurs, malocclusion can affect a child’s facial development, teeth, and the cosmetic appearance of their smile. Experienced orthodontists like Dr. McGrory can address all of these concerns with interceptive treatment!
What are some examples of interceptive orthodontics?
It’s not unusual for parents to be concerned that an early orthodontic exam will automatically lead to treatment, but we recommend this for just a small percentage of the young patients we evaluate. Even if immediate treatment is indicated, that won’t necessarily mean putting a child into braces right away. Many of the most common Phase I treatments don’t even use brackets or wires! Some examples of this include:
- removing one or more primary teeth to help guide the proper placement of the permanent teeth
- using expanders to widen the upper jaw and provide space for very crowded teeth
- placing teeth spacers to save a spot for permanent teeth if a primary tooth has been lost early due to injury or decay
By following the normal patterns of a child’s dental growth and development, our expert team can treat issues at the most optimal time. Many of the problems that can be treated fairly easily in a child whose mouth is still developing may require more invasive treatment once their jawbones stop growing. This normally happens between the ages of 16-18 and can make treatment more complex.
For many young patients, interceptive orthodontics can achieve lasting results for these issues and may lessen the impact of others! Bearing that in mind, most will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process.
Give your child’s smile the best start with an early orthodontic evaluation
When it comes to giving your child the best foundation for a fully functional smile, early childhood evaluations are the perfect starting point! Even if Dr. McGrory doesn’t find any dental issues that need attention, there are many benefits to orthodontic visits throughout childhood. These regular check-ups will allow us to:
- Monitor the progress of emerging permanent teeth
- Monitor the progress of facial and jaw development
- Reduce the need for jaw surgery later in life
- Guide emerging teeth into the ideal positions
- Detect hidden dental problems
- Reduce the risk of impacted teeth
- Reduce the risk of needing tooth extractions in the future
As you can see, there are many reasons to love these visits! Being able to approach your child’s smile proactively instead of reactively gives us the chance to provide young patients with the care they need at the time it will be most beneficial.
Trust your child’s smile to the experts at Lake Jackson Orthodontics
Your child’s smile is as unique as they are! That’s why Dr. McGrory creates customized treatment plans for every patient. What works for one child may not be a good fit for another, but the personalized care our team provides ensures your child will receive exactly the right treatment for their smile! To learn more about how children can benefit from early evaluations and interceptive orthodontics, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. McGrory and the rest of our talented team.