When your little bundle of joy arrives in this world, their growth and development are nothing short of astounding. This is especially true when it comes to oral areas like their teeth, jawline, and facial features that quickly come into view.
As soon as you witness that first captivating smile, it’s only natural to feel the core desire to nurture and safeguard your child’s oral health and facial development. After all, it’s a part of their self-confidence, identity, and overall well-being. But how do you ensure your child receives the best care?
Well, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an orthodontic screening by the age of seven—and with good reason. An early assessment can help to identify potential issues with jaw development, crowding, or even a misaligned bite that requires special attention.
The benefits of early orthodontic treatment are manifold, which you’ll find detailed throughout this article. But first, what exactly is orthodontic treatment, and what’s the difference between a specialty orthodontist office and a general dentist?
Let’s find out.
What is Orthodontic Treatment?
Orthodontics is a specialty branch of dentistry. It focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of misaligned teeth and jaws—also referred to as malocclusions. These issues can be genetic or caused by thumb-sucking in early childhood, missing or extra teeth, or other health conditions. The cause can also be a mix of environmental and hereditary factors.
Orthodontic treatments vary based on the child’s age, condition, and severity of the problem. Typically, doctors will use one or more devices to help guide teeth into correct alignment.
Common orthodontic treatments used to correct typical problems include:
- Teen Invisalign, other aligners, expanders, and retainers
- Colorful conventional braces
- Palatal expanders that help widen the upper arch of the mouth
- Headgear appliances that gently move teeth into proper alignment by placing pressure on the jaw and neck region
The above treatments can help to ensure your child’s teeth, bones, muscles, and other oral structures have developed as they should. It also guarantees that their jawline is properly shaped before they enter adulthood.
Specialty Orthodontist Office vs. General Dentist
While an orthodontist is a go-to specialist for all matters related to braces, a general dentist may also be able to provide basic orthodontic treatments.
The difference is that a general dentist will only perform services regarding your child’s oral health and hygiene that are within their scope of practice. Orthodontists have an additional two to three years of advanced training and specialization in the field of orthodontics.
An orthodontist is better equipped to properly diagnose and treat any underlying issues that might be present. Orthodontists are also better suited to deal with complex cases, like jaw problems and the need to extract teeth or even maneuver them into a more ideal position.
Moreover, orthodontists can also use advanced technology and techniques such as 3D imaging and laser treatments for greater precision outcomes. This can often result in a shorter treatment time and better results.
Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment for Your Child’s Oral Health
The benefits of early orthodontic treatment for children are far-reaching. An early assessment is key, as it allows the orthodontist to identify and address issues before they become more serious or complicated.
Early detection can help your child avoid various potential problems, which we’ll discuss in greater detail below.
Some children naturally have a lisp or other speech impediment caused by improper jaw development or misaligned teeth. Through orthodontic treatment, the jaws and teeth can be guided into proper alignment, which can lead to improved speech.
Crowded teeth, tooth decay, and gum disease (caused by overcrowding)
When teeth are crowded, they can be difficult to clean and maintain. Food particles may get caught in hard-to-reach places and cause tooth decay or gum disease. In this case, orthodontic braces can be used to straighten teeth and make it easier for your child to brush and floss properly.
Improper jaw growth (underdevelopment)
If the upper and lower jaw are not properly aligned, it can lead to difficulty in biting and chewing. In extreme cases, speech issues may arise if the teeth do not support the tongue in its proper position. A visit to the orthodontist can help diagnose and treat this issue in its early stages by guiding the jaws into proper alignment.
Bite problems (malocclusion)
Another benefit of orthodontic treatment is that it can help correct bite problems (malocclusion). Common issues like overbites, underbites, and cross-bites can all be corrected with the right treatment plan. Your child’s orthodontist will be able to provide the best options for their individual situation.
Breathlessness and headaches due to poor jaw alignment
If the jaw is not aligned correctly, it can put pressure on other areas of the body. This can lead to breathlessness and even headaches. Orthodontic treatment can help to correct this by realigning the jaw and relieving excess pressure. This way, your child can breathe easy and feel more comfortable as they navigate through their day.
Overall, the benefits of orthodontic treatment for your child’s oral health cannot be overstated. Early detection and intervention can help to prevent more serious issues from developing, as well as give your child the confidence that comes from having a healthy smile.
Your child’s dentist will be able to recommend an orthodontist who specializes in orthodontic treatment for children, such as teen Invisalign, other aligners, expanders, and colorful conventional braces. With the right orthodontic care, your child can enjoy a healthy smile for years to come.
We hope this article has helped to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your child’s orthodontic needs. If you need any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have, and get your little one started on the path to a healthier smile.