Concerned About Your Child’s Bite? Learn About Interceptive Orthodontics
Getting braces can seem like a right of passage or coming of age occurrence for pre-adolescents and teenagers. And kids can need braces or orthodontics for various reasons, including crooked, overlapping, overcrowded teeth, or malocclusion. However, with interceptive orthodontics, parents can help get their kids ahead of the game, lessening the length of treatment that they might need in later years.
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics begins around age seven and usually starts with an early orthodontic intervention consultation. During this consultation, your child’s dentist or orthodontist will look for one or more of the following indicators that orthodontics will be required now or down the road:
- An abnormal bite relationship exists, keeping the teeth from matching up while biting.
- Baby teeth are lost earlier or later than what is considered to be normal.
- Your child constantly bites their cheek or the roof of their mouth.
- Breathing seems to occur mostly through the mouth and not the nose.
- There is a disproportionate tooth or jaw size.
- Your child demonstrates challenges when biting into or chewing food.
- Their teeth are crowded, missing, or out of position.
After assessing your child’s specific needs and looking for the above indicators, the dentist will determine if one of three outcomes is required.
- It is not anticipated that treatment will be necessary.
- Treatment is not needed now but will likely be needed in the future.
- Treatment should begin sooner than later.
Through interceptive orthodontics, the dentist or orthodontist can use phased treatments to manipulate the growth of your child’s teeth and correct developmental occlusion problems.
Types of malocclusion
Malocclusion refers to misaligned teeth that can cause complications, such as an overbite, underbite, crossbite, and overcrowding. When teeth are misaligned, your child can experience challenges chewing, biting, and speaking. However, dentists who are trained in orthodontics can effectively correct the way your child’s teeth line up in their jaw.
There are several types of malocclusion, including the following:
- Excessive or too minimal spacing.
- Diastema (a space between two teeth, most often noticeable between the two front teeth).
- Overjet (when the upper teeth protrude outward and sit over the bottom teeth).
- Impacted teeth (a tooth or teeth that remain stuck in gum tissue or bone for various reasons).
- Open bite.
- Missing teeth.
Causes of Malocclusion
In many cases, malocclusion is an inherited condition passed on from generation to generation. However, your child can also experience malocclusion due to certain habits or conditions that change the shape or structure of their jaw or facial bones. A common reason for malocclusion is when there is too little room or too much room for new teeth to erupt, which causes other teeth in the mouth to shift to different positions. Malocclusion can also occur for the following reasons.
- Tooth loss: When teeth come out, they leave spaces in the gums before new teeth come in. If new teeth are delayed, other teeth can begin to shift position.
- Excessive pacifier use: The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend weaning your child from their pacifier around six months to avoid otitis media (ear infections). But the sooner you can wean your child from the pacifier, especially when their teeth start to come in, the better.
- Thumb sucking: Similar to pacifier use, thumb sucking can lead to malocclusion as well. The thumb or pacifier tends to push the upper front teeth (incisors) outward and lower incisors inward (overjet), which prevents new incisors from erupting completely, thus leading to an open bite.
- Cleft lip and palate: The shape of your child’s jaw or birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate, can also contribute to malocclusion.
- Injuries and trauma: A trip, fall, or knocked-out tooth are common causes of malocclusion and often need to be corrected by orthodontics or other dental treatment.
- Bottle feeding: Your child requires less muscle activity when consuming milk or water from a bottle, which means decreased development of muscles involved in sucking. This can lead to inadequate mandibular growth.
- Impacted teeth: If your child has an impacted tooth (which hasn’t erupted as it should), it can later erupt at an undesirable angle toward other teeth in close proximity to the one erupting. This causes adjacent teeth to shift out of their normal position.
- Lack of a solid daily oral care regimen: Children of all ages need to ensure they are practicing proper oral care. Each day, teeth should be brushed twice and flossed once. It is also suggested that children rinse with a child-safe mouthwash to rinse away food particles. Teeth that are not properly cared for are at greater risk for developing tooth decay.
The benefits of early intervention and interceptive orthodontics.
Many children require orthodontic intervention, and an assessment should occur around age seven. This interceptive orthodontic treatment can prevent more serious dental problems from developing later on, giving the dentist or orthodontist control over where your child’s permanent teeth come in. All in all, your child can anticipate the following benefits from interceptive orthodontics:
- Expansion of the upper jaw to correct crossbite.
- Creation of space for crowding teeth.
- Saved space for teeth that haven’t erupted yet.
- Correction of poor oral habits.
- Reduced treatment time when they are older.
The Tooth Doc can help with interceptive orthodontics to treat your child’s malocclusion.
If your child has a malocclusion, such as an overbite, underbite, crooked teeth, or crowded mouth, in West Omaha, it is time to schedule a consultation with The Tooth Doc. Simply request an appointment using our online form or give our office a call. We’re ready to work with you and your child to correct their smile with an orthodontic treatment plan that is highly effective, safe, comfortable, and affordable. We look forward to hearing from you.