Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
At Empire Dental Specialty Group, our orthodontists love seeing children. Pediatric orthodontic care can make a great difference in your child’s life. Contrary to what many people think, pediatric orthodontics is not just braces to create a beautiful smile. It actually has an impact on overall health.
Why is Pediatric Orthodontics Important?
The proper alignment of the teeth is not just for cosmetic reasons. The way the upper and lower teeth fit together affects the size of the airway and the function of the jaws. By undergoing early orthodontic intervention, you can promote a healthy, open airway. This may involve the use of an expander to widen one or both of the jaws, which opens the airway in a lateral direction. It may also involve using orthodontic appliances to pull the lower jaw forward, which opens the airway in a front-to-back direction.
An open airway is essential to good quality sleep, which doctors link with healthy energy levels, behavior, and performance at school.
The growth of the jaws also affects the airway, and we can intervene and influence jaw growth and development with early orthodontic treatment. When we say “promoting jaw growth”, you might be envisioning a bulky and torturous looking headgear. You (and your child) will be happy to know that we no longer use those external devices because we have wonderful intraoral orthodontic appliances that can accomplish the same growth and development.
How Do I Know if My Child Needs Orthodontic Treatment?
Ideally, your pediatric or general dentist will inform you if you need to see an orthodontist for evaluation of your child. If your child is not consistently seeing a dentist, it is time for a check-up. Regular dental care is essential to overall health, and it is the first step in determining whether your child needs orthodontic treatment.
There are a few obvious indications that your child should see an orthodontist, so if you note any of the following, you may want to schedule a consultation with one of our wonderful orthodontists.
- Visibly severe crowding with multiple rotations and overlapping of the teeth
- Inability to hold the lips together when at rest
- Constant mouth-breathing
- Snoring, choking or gasping sounds during sleep
- Difficulty chewing food or biting into food with the front teeth
When Should I Schedule an Orthodontic Consultation for My Child?
Pediatric orthodontic intervention can change the trajectory of your child’s overall health and development. Each child should undergo an orthodontic evaluation by age seven years. This is when the child begins losing baby teeth, and permanent teeth are entering the mouth. This transitional phase is a wonderful time for orthodontic intervention.
You can wait for your general dentist or pediatric dentist to refer your child to us for an evaluation, or you can call and schedule one when your child is seven years old. Many children do not need intervention at such a young age, so scheduling an orthodontic evaluation does not necessarily mean that he or she will begin treatment right away. An early evaluation simply helps us (and you as the parent) plan ahead for the best timing of orthodontic treatment.