The key to a healthy smile is early orthodontic treatment. It is recommended that children have an orthodontic consultation as early as age seven. This is contrary to what most parents and even teachers believe. Many times, parents are advised to wait until the permanent teeth erupt before seeking an orthodontic consultation. Unfortunately, the options available to correct poorly aligned teeth diminish as the patient gets older. This is not to say that someone can be too old for braces. On the contrary, there is no age limit for braces. The only requirement is that the supporting gums, bone and teeth are healthy before the teeth can be aligned. However, starting treatment early has a series of advantages.
The fact is that 75% of 12-year -olds need orthodontic treatment. Yet, at this age, 90% of a child’s face has already developed. By guiding facial development earlier, through the use of functional appliances, 80% of the treatment can be corrected before the adult teeth are present. Two additional advantages are cooperation and shorter treatment time. Younger children between the ages of 8 and 11 are often much more cooperative that children 12 to 14, and children who undergo Phase One treatment will need to wear fixed braces on their adult teeth for less time.
Early Phase One treatment is accomplished primarily with functional appliances. These appliances can be used from ages 5 to 12. Functional appliances can help correct bite problems, underdeveloped jaws, narrow arches, crowded teeth, deep overbites, jaw joint problems, airway problems, and thumbsucking habits. Additionally, functional appliances can often prevent removal of adult teeth, speech difficulties, and crowding.
Your children deserve broad, beautiful smiles and healthy jaw joints. Because mouth breathing can cause narrow arches and unattractive smiles, functional appliances are used while children are actively growing to help them achieve a broader smile. Additionally, many children with narrow arches, deep bites, or underdeveloped lower jaws have unhealthy jaw joints which can cause headaches, neck pain, dizziness, earaches, and more. The use of functional appliances can prevent or eliminate these problems.
Allow your kids to breathe freely and put an end to ear pain. Mouth breathing can lead to orthodontic problems as well as other problems such as lack of oxygen and poor sleep habits. This leaves children prone to daytime fatigue and inability to concentrate in school and headaches. Also consider that deep overbites and underdeveloped lower jaws may cause earaches, and ringing in the ears. If infection has been ruled out, functional appliances can eliminate these symptoms effectively.
Parents want the best for their children; straight teeth, properly sized jaws, straight profiles and beautiful smiles. By treating problems early, you save money and may prevent the need for more extensive future treatment.
Dr. Julio Hernandez is a member of the International Association of Orthodontics.