The most common image people have for orthodontic treatment is of teenagers wearing braces on their teeth. The majority of children will not need orthodontics until their late adolescence or early teen years, but for a small group early orthodontics can yield a better outcome.
The ideal first visit to an orthodontist should come at age 7, according to the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation. We certainly endorse that idea. It has been estimated that up to half of American children could benefit from some type of orthodontic treatment. An orthodontic screening will identify problems early and help parents work with the orthodontist to plan the most appropriate treatments.
We often get asked, “Do you treat children?” Yes, absolutely! Pre-adolescents and teens are an important part of our practice.
An early examination allows the orthodontist to detect problems that might not be obvious. In some cases, especially if baby teeth are misaligned, early intervention can make a big difference in what the treatment will be like. For some children, early intervention may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated.
Several factors can be signs of potential problems. These include a narrow palate, thumb sucking habits, delayed or missing teeth, protruding upper teeth, early loss of a baby tooth, and asymmetry of the face. Snoring and breathing problems caused by sleep disorders can be signs of an underlying airway problem. More than a cosmetic issue, these conditions can affect cognitive development. Underdeveloped jaws can influence the airway, which makes it harder to move air through the nose. This can lead to more severe health problems down the road.
For most children, orthodontic treatment will not be needed until most of the permanent teeth have come in, normally around age 12. For some, however, early treatment can achieve a result which might not be possible if treatment begins after adolescence.
Often the necessary early treatment can lead to less time in orthodontic treatment later. Underbite and crossbites in particular are easier to correct if started before adolescence, when the child’s jaws are still developing. A shorter course of treatment also has advantages for the child, who will spend less time wearing braces or Invisalign.
If it turns out that a child’s teeth and jaws are developing normally and no treatment is needed, an early visit to the orthodontist is a benefit to the parents' peace of mind.
The first step in seeking orthodontic treatment is to have an initial examination. It’s easy to schedule that first visit by contacting our office; no referral from your family dentist is needed. We also have an appointment-request form on our website. We will work closely with your family dentist to coordinate any orthodontic treatment with your regular dental checkups.
Parents who were not able to get orthodontic treatment when they were children will appreciate the opportunity to give the gift of straight teeth, and the advantages of a beautiful smile, to their children. It’s not unusual for us to examine both parent and child, so be sure to let us know if there are others in the family who would benefit from an orthodontic screening.
Orthodontists are specialists in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. They have two to three years of formal training solely in orthodontics after becoming dentists. The orthodontist looks at the alignment of teeth and jaws to determine if orthodontic treatment is needed. The obvious potential reward from care by an orthodontist is straighter teeth. But just as important is the boost to self-confidence that a better smile can provide. If you or your child would like a better smile, contact Gierie Orthodontics to set up a complimentary initial consultation. Call 910.256.8590 or visit www.drgierie.com for more information.
Dr. William V. Gierie received his dental degree and orthodontic specialty training from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is an associate adjunct faculty member and Invisalign instructor in the orthodontic department. Dr. Gierie is in the top 1% of all Invisalign doctors in North America and lectures extensively on Invisalign. He maintains a private orthodontic practice in Wilmington, N.C., at 700 Military Cutoff Road, Suite 100. For more information, visit gobraces.net or call 910.256.8590.