When you think of a child’s smile, what comes to mind? Missing teeth? A crooked grin? “Buck” teeth? Over the years, pop culture has capitalized on the cuteness of a child’s changing smile, but some of these issues can harm their oral health. Misalignment of the teeth and jaw and other malocclusions can impact the cosmetic appearance of a child’s smile and also interfere with the way they eat, speak, and even breathe. That’s where we come in! Don’t put it off, keep reading to learn more about why early treatment matters.
Williams & Hamman Orthodontics, we believe in taking a preventative approach whenever possible. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child has an orthodontic evaluation by about 7 years of age, and we agree! A young child’s mouth is still developing at this point, and an exam by a qualified orthodontist can identify any potential problems. Being able to diagnose and treat orthodontic issues earlier in life gives kids the best foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
When you schedule a free consultation for your child with our Southaven or Olive Branch office, our doctors will assess their oral health and dental development. They’ll be looking specifically for any common issues that may signify the need for closer observation and possible treatment, whether now or in the future. If Dr. Williams or Dr. Hamman detect any cause for concern in children between the ages of 6-9, it may prompt a discussion about something we call interceptive orthodontics.
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics, also called Phase I orthodontics, gives us the chance to identify and diagnose issues with a young child’s jaw growth or tooth development. In doing so, we’re able to initiate treatment at the most optimum age. In turn, this will create space for the proper development and eruption of the permanent teeth. It can also enhance the growth of the child’s jaw. This type of treatment results in improved oral health, straighter teeth, and a more symmetrical smile.
Who is a good candidate for interceptive orthodontics?
During your child’s first visit with us, one of our doctors will perform a thorough examination of their teeth and jaws. There are many reasons they may consider interceptive orthodontics. If any of the following are true, this could be a good treatment option for your child.
- Your child appears to 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 may need some guidance as they grow.
Many orthodontic issues we encounter are genetic, like gapped or crowded teeth, extra or missing teeth, and several other irregularities. Other dental problems may be acquired, whether through injury, premature tooth loss, or bad oral habits. Whatever the underlying cause, these difficulties can affect the way your child’s smile looks, feels, and functions. Interceptive orthodontics can address and correct this.
What are some examples of interceptive orthodontics?
Some parents worry that an early evaluation will automatically lead to treatment. This is rarely the case, however! In fact, we tend to recommend immediate treatment for only a small fraction of the young patients we see. Even if treatment is recommended, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be putting braces on your child right away. There are plenty of Phase I treatments that don’t even use brackets or wires! Some of these 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
At Williams & Hamman Orthodontics, we follow the normal patterns of dental growth and development in children. This lets us treat orthodontic issues at the most optimal time for superior results! A proactive approach like this is beneficial for children on multiple levels—there are many problems we can treat with relative ease in a child whose mouth is still developing that would require more invasive treatment once their jawbones stop growing. This normally happens between the ages of 16-18, and when it does, treatment can become more complex. This could lead to longer treatment times as well.
Interceptive orthodontics often allows us to achieve lasting results for many common issues, and can even lessen the impact of others. Keep in mind, however, that most patients will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process.
Observing your child’s smile as they grow
Early orthodontic evaluations are one of the best things you can do for your child’s smile! Even if no oral issues are discovered during that first visit, there are several benefits to following up with an orthodontist throughout childhood. Regular check-ups like these 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 any hidden dental problems
- reduce the risk of impacted teeth
- reduce the risk of needing tooth extractions in the future
Proactively tackling orthodontic issues in our young patients puts us in the best position to give them the specialized care they need when they need it most!
Give your child’s smile the best start with Williams & Hamman Orthodontics
Your child’s smile is as unique as they are. What works for one patient may not be a good fit for another, and that’s why our doctors will create a personalized treatment plan for your child that’s based on their specific needs and goals. Custom care means every child will receive exactly the right plan for their smile, at exactly the right time!
If your child is ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, we’d love to meet you both and take a good look at how their smile is developing so far. Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with us and take the first step towards your child’s best smile!