It is common for adolescents and teenagers to need their bites corrected by an Orthodontic Specialist. When a parent hears that their teenager needs braces or other specialized orthodontics, they may wonder if there was something they could have done to prevent the problem. They may wish they could go back in time when their child had a poor bite that was developing in order to slow it down or to completely stop it.
It is true that time travel is simply not possible right now. However, the idea of preventing or stopping the problem as opposed to correcting it later is possible. An approach called interceptive orthodontics uses procedures and techniques during the time that a child’s jaw is developing to prevent a bad bite. The goal of interceptive orthodontics is to prevent a poor bite from forming by setting jaw growth on the right track.
The following is one example of how interceptive orthodontics can be used when there is an issue with the upper jaw. The upper jaw may be growing in a way that is too narrow. This reduces the space that is available for teeth to erupt. To correct this problem, a palatal expander can be placed in the roof of the mouth. Gentle pressure is exerted against the inside of the teeth by means of the appliance. This gentle pressure will stimulate the jaw to grow wider instead of carrying on its narrow growth pattern.
You may be wondering how this expander works. It basically creates a separation in the bones that are in the center of the palate. These fuse around the time a child hits puberty. That gap stays slightly open because of the appliance that is put inside of the child’s mouth by the orthodontist. The body will then continue to fill this gap with bone as the jaw widens. Young people who were not able to have this expander put in place before hitting puberty may be able to have the space reopened surgically and then the process mentioned above can start.
Space maintainers are easy to use and do not involve the same extensive process of expanders. If a child loses a baby tooth prematurely, the teeth located next to it usually start to drift, causing the permanent tooth to eventually erupt in a crooked way because of a lack of space. A space maintainer is used to prevent the other teeth from moving into the empty space until the permanent tooth grows in. This space maintainer is typically made of a small wire.
While the idea of going back in time is still something that is only a part of science fiction, these two simple examples show that it is possible to help young people completely avoid or at least slow down the process of developing a bite issue.
Parents who would like to help their children avoid a bad bite need to understand how important timing is. In order to get the best outcome, children need to start orthodontic treatments early. It is best to have a child visit an orthodontist for an evaluation when they are about six years old. If it is determined that a child would benefit from using an interceptive orthodontic treatment, this could prevent extensive and expensive orthodontic treatments later in life.
Parents who are interested in helping their children prevent a bad bite can contact us today to learn more about the treatments we offer. We will schedule a consultation where you and your child can meet with Dr. Blalock and learn more about interceptive orthodontics.