Parents bring their children to our office seeking dentistry for children. They typically do so because they want to make sure that their child’s teeth are clean and free from cavities. A lot of what we do centers around preventative care and treating things like early signs of tooth decay. These are the steps that are necessary to ensure a child will have a full set of healthy teeth as they age.
We recommend scheduling these appointments twice a year so that we have the best opportunity for keeping your child’s teeth healthy. During these examinations, parents also frequently ask us about orthodontics and if there is anything we can do to prevent their child from needing braces. This is a really good question and the answer is yes and no.
There are some things we can do to reduce the likelihood of a child needing braces when they get older or need to wear braces for a long period of time. It all comes down to the same type of prevention that we focus on for preventing tooth decay and dental infections.
Essentially, one reason children need braces is that of overcrowding. Overcrowding can happen if a child loses his or her baby teeth prematurely. Baby teeth hold a space for the permanent adult tooth and are not permanent.
If baby teeth fall out too early, the surrounding teeth may move into that position and shorten the amount of space for the adult tooth. Then, when the tooth grows in, it may come in sideways, crooked, on top of or behind other teeth.
So, how can we help? We help by keeping teeth healthy and reducing the likelihood that they will fall out before their time. For example, if we can treat the decay or it prevent entirely, we will be eliminating the risk of a child developing an infection that requires an eventual extraction.
Also, we can help by providing a child with a mouth guard to wear when playing sports. This can be an excellent way to protect teeth and make it less likely that a child will lose a baby tooth in an accident. Both of these steps are part of our preventative services and they can make a big difference when it comes to a child needing orthodontics later on.
When providing dentistry for children, we have no control over the size of a child’s palate. Some children have genetics that predisposes them to need orthodontics since they do not have enough room in their palate. While the size of one’s palate is outside of anyone’s control, treatment is possible through the use of orthodontics.
Thus, we sometimes recommend that a child visit an orthodontist for an early consultation. There are some treatments that they can employ to make it possible to create additional space in the mouth, before ever placing braces on the child’s teeth.
In some situations, these early orthodontic treatments make it possible for adult teeth to grow in properly, thereby reducing the need for braces later on or making it possible to wear braces for a shorter period of time. This is something that the orthodontist would go over in detail when making recommendations.
If we feel that a child will benefit from an early orthodontic treatment, we will make that recommendation as early as seven years of age. However, most children will not actually get braces until they reach the end of elementary or middle school – between ages 10 and 12.
Ultimately, this decision will be up to the orthodontist and on how many adult teeth the child has. If the child loses his or her teeth and grows the adult teeth early on, orthodontic treatment could begin at a younger age. If the child loses teeth late, they will need to be older.
To ask more questions about orthodontics and ways to reduce the likelihood of your child needing braces, schedule an appointment with our Rockville dental office. As a provider of dentistry for kids, Montgomery Dental Associates is happy to provide additional information and answer questions in detail.