Orthodontic treatment in young children is known as early treatment or interceptive orthodontics. Intervention may begin as early as age 6 or 7. At this age, teeth are still developing and the jaw is still growing, making it easier to address certain conditions.
“There are certain conditions that are much easier to treat or may have a greater need to be treated in childhood, such as a small dental arch,” stated orthodontist Dr. Jep Paschal, past president of the Georgia Association of Orthodontics and a current council member of the AAO. “Coming in for an orthodontic check-up at age 7 allows the orthodontist to evaluate the situation and create a plan with the parents. The plan may include early treatment, or it may provide parents with the confidence to know that in their situation waiting to treat later is the appropriate choice.”
Malocclusions (bad bites) tend to get worse with age and straight teeth are easier to brush and floss correctly, leading to better overall oral care. Conditions such as mouth breathing, speech difficulties, or grinding teeth can be corrected with early treatment. Buckteeth are more prone to injury and can get chipped or knocked out if not treated early. Sometimes there are psychological reasons for correcting crooked or buckteeth early: a child may be getting teased. According to a study published in the December 2013 issue of American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, teeth were the number one targeted physical feature to increase a child’s chance of being bullied, followed by the child’s strength and weight.
“Your smile is typically the first thing people notice about you, and it is no different for children,” continued Paschal. “Early treatment may help to provide a better overall orthodontic outcome than being treated at a later age, and it does provide many children with confidence in childhood and their teen years.”
As more children are receiving early treatment, the stigma of names like “brace face” or “tin grin” are no longer a major concern. Young children today are very excited and proud to wear braces and many of them cannot wait to wear them. Manufacturers have made brightly colored elastics (tiny rubber bands that that go around the brackets) making braces more fun for children. Kids can now choose elastics with their school colors or a holiday color scheme, such as orange and black for Halloween.
Today’s orthodontic alignment systems offer many more options for customizing treatment than in the past. Computer imaging can help to pinpoint exact movements necessary to create a healthy smile. Clear aligners, patient specific orthodontic systems, self-ligating brackets, state-of-the-
The first step to a better smile is to call and visit your orthodontist. It is important to remember that no particular system meets everyone’s needs. Only an orthodontist has received the additional two to three years of specialized education after becoming a dentist that is necessary to master all the systems and techniques required to align and straighten teeth. This specialized training and experience enables an orthodontic specialist to provide the best, most efficient, and cost effective solutions for your smile and bite.
Dr. Paschal is a leader in the orthodontics industry and uses the most advanced treatment methods available. He is a frequent speaker at orthodontics and dental conferences both nationally and internationally. A certified dentist with specialties in both prosthodontics (implant and restorative dentistry) and orthodontics, he brings a wealth of knowledge to the field of orthodontics. Through his practice, Paschal Orthodontics, he has served the Madison, Ga., and Lake Oconee, Ga., communities for ten years. For more information visit www.paschalorthodontics.com.