The provision of early treatment can be advantageous in the appropriate situation as it can help to simplify or prevent orthodontic treatment in the future. It can also address a problem which is causing damage to current teeth and their supporting structures or is affecting normal growth and development.
Early treatment is usually undertaken when the child still has both some child and adult teeth, usually between the ages of seven to ten. Some patients can experience tooth growth at different times of development, so the age bracket can vary.
What does early treatment involve?
Early treatment can be as simple as monitoring the growth the development of the jaws and dentition. It can also involve timely extractions of deciduous teeth, the placement of a few braces, the use of space holding, functional or passive appliances, or the use of a growth modifying appliance. All of these may assist with tooth eruption, guiding facial growth and preventing future problems from developing.
What treatments could be recommended?
The placement of braces on a particular section of the upper or lower teeth may be necessary to correct poorly aligned or incorrectly positioned teeth. Examples of situations where partial braces can be beneficial include the correction of impacted first molar teeth, uprighting tilted permanent teeth, recreation of lost arch length, correction of a crossbite or improvement of significantly proclined upper front teeth. The early correction of certain problems can reduce the length of time of future orthodontic treatment, negate the need for extractions of permanent teeth or even prevent the need for full braces later.
Headgear is a functional appliance which is commonly used in the mixed dentition (baby and permanent teeth still present) and skeletal growth is still occurring. Headgear is only worn at home, usually during sleeping. The best results are achieved when headgear is worn for 10-12 hours per day.
Two main types of headgear are:
- Cervical headgear (strap sits at the base of head) and is used to manage Class II malocclusions (when the lower jaw is recessive/small compared to the upper jaw).
- Reverse pull headgear (Face Mask is placed on the forehead and chin) and is used to manage Class III malocclusions (when the upper jaw is recessive/small compared to the lower jaw)
Lower or upper lingual arch
Lingual arches are passive holding arches which are cemented to the permanent first molars to prevent them from moving forward. Lingual arches can be used as a space maintainer in cases where baby teeth have needed to be removed early, or as a way to relieve crowding in the dental arch.
A maxillary expander is commonly needed to treat a narrow or small upper arch. The upper arch is best expanded when growth is still occurring.
There are two main types of maxillary expanders:
- Quad Helix Expander: commonly used in the mixed dentition to result in both expansion of the upper jaw and tooth movement (dental expansion). If used in an adult, a quad helix expander will result in dental expansion only.
Rapid Maxillary Expander (RME)
Commonly used in the permanent dentition. If used in a growing patient, an RME will result in expansion of the upper jaw and dental expansion.
It is recommended that children are brought to see an orthodontist around the ages of approximately seven to ten. This will enable the orthodontist to assess your child’s mouth and determine whether early treatment is necessary, just as they may do in an adult consultation. Early treatment can be a highly effective interceptive measure that establishes a functioning, healthy and beautiful mouth during adulthood.
To help you child to have the best and most functional smile they could possibly have, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team at South Yarra Orthodontics. We are happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.