When children develop into tweens or teenagers, many parents discover from a dentist or orthodontist that their children have issues with their bite. This could refer to an overbite, underbite or an overall issue with jaw development.
Now, because of interceptive orthodontics, parents can have their child’s bite and jaw assessed before major problems develop.
Interceptive orthodontics refers to procedures or techniques used when a patient’s jaw is still in its early stages of development. The treatment used typically targets the cause of abnormal jaw growth — usually caused by genetics. Early intervention allows a dental professional, typically an orthodontist, to correct the issue so an underbite or overbite does not form.
For example, when the upper jaw grows, it could become too narrow. This leads to a reduction in available space for tooth eruption — the term used when baby teeth come in. If left untreated, teeth form in the wrong spots.
To correct improper tooth formation, the doctors at Ferris Orthodontics use a device called a palatal expander. Once placed in a patient’s palate, commonly referred to as the mouth, the device begins to work. Because a separation in the bones already exists in the middle of the palate — during puberty they fuse together — the instrument then uses gentle pressure on the inside of the teeth. That pressure keeps stimulating the jaw, which helps it become wider. This makes room for the teeth to properly come in.
Additionally, the pressure created by a palatal expander ensures that any gap stays a bit open. The gap needs to remain open because the device expands the jaw. This widening is what allows the area to fill with needed bone.
Our firm recommends getting treatment before your child become a pre-teen. If you wait too late, the gap inside your child’s mouth may already fuse. This could result in needing a more complicated procedure to fix the problem. Once a tween or teenager has developed a fused gap, an orthodontist needs to surgically reopen it before being able to use the palatal expander method.
Interceptive orthodontics also encompasses techniques that require less-extensive measures. One common example is using a space maintainer to ensure teeth correctly fall into place.
When a child loses a baby tooth — also called a primary one — too early, the teeth located next to the now empty space may shift into the spot where the primary tooth fell out. This could result in a permanent tooth growing into the wrong place because of the lack of mouth space.
In this case too, an orthodontist turns to an interceptive measure in the form of the space maintainer. The orthodontist simply puts a small wire loop in the space — this means that other teeth no longer have the ability to move into the empty space created by the lost tooth.
Interceptive orthodontics goes beyond the two techniques discussed in this article. However, they serve as two good examples of showing how preventative measures may slow down or halt an improper bite or jaw issue.
Parents may wonder when they need to worry about teeth crowding since kids hit puberty at different ages. To ensure an orthodontist can employ the needed method, make sure your child has an orthodontic evaluation around the age of six.
By getting an early examination, parents ensure children receive the best course of action. Using this type of approach to address bite concerns, may also mean that children, tweens and teenagers avoid more-invasive and costly treatments as they mature.
To receive additional information on how interceptive orthodontics addresses bite and jaw issues, or to schedule a consultation, please call or contact our practice to schedule your child’s appointment.