For some children, problems with the bite or spacing of teeth appear well before the eruption of adult teeth. In such cases, early intervention can save a lot of time, money, and discomfort in later adolescence or the teen years.
At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman provides early orthodontic intervention when appropriate to help put your child’s mouth and teeth on the path to an even, beautiful smile.
How to tell if your child needs early intervention
An early intervention consultation is usually done around the age of seven, after issues with your child’s teeth and/or bite become visible. You should schedule an appointment if you notice one or more of the following issues:
- An overbite, underbite, or crooked bite that’s readily apparent
- Any teeth that seem to be missing, or teeth that appear to be “extra” teeth
- Teeth that are crowded or out of alignment
- Trouble with breathing at night, or excessive snoring
Early intervention can help address these problems and reduce the need for later interventions.
Types of phase one appliances
Many dental problems requiring childhood orthodontics have to do with your child’s jaw and soft palate. The former may be too small, or the latter too narrow, not allowing teeth to come in without serious crowding and misalignment.
Dr. Chapman uses early intervention methods that rely on what are called “phase one appliances” to gently guide the growth of your child’s mouth and help correct how teeth come in. This can mean much less time spent in dental braces down the road.
Many of us remember kids having to wear headgear to help correct crowding or crooked teeth. The Penguin acts as invisible headgear, glued directly onto the molars and left in place for a few months. It makes extra room in the mouth and encourages a nice, even arch so adult teeth can erupt into place naturally.
The T-Rex appliance fits into the roof of your child’s mouth, and exerts pressure to widen the upper jaw and push the molars back and to the outside, making room for your child’s permanent teeth to come in.
The D-gainer is placed on the permanent front teeth and first erupting molars to force the jaw to widen as it grows. Any teeth that have come in misaligned can be encouraged back into place, and the rest of the molars will have room to come in evenly.
The palatal expander
A palatal expander corrects narrow palates by widening the upper jaw before the soft palate fuses. At the same time, it can correct molar rotation (which happens when molars come into a space that’s too small — they rotate to fit the narrowest width between other teeth).
Benefits of early intervention
Preventive dentistry is overwhelmingly easier, cheaper, and less traumatic than corrective dentistry. With early intervention, your child can benefit in the following ways:
- Smile security (future treatments are more likely to be successful with a well-grown jaw)
- Guiding tooth eruption (adult teeth will come in straighter and more evenly)
- Improved oral hygiene (easier brushing and flossing thanks to straighter teeth)
- Boosted self-esteem and self-confidence (thanks to an even smile)
- Lessened risk of dental problems (such as TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder)
Dr. Chapman can help diagnose these problems and determine the type of early intervention method that will benefit your child most. To schedule a consultation, call 503-336-1883, or request an appointment online.