Continuing with this important discussion in this blog I will try to give an overview of possible treatment options. I have broken it into early and later phases. The very important diagnosis that needs to be made is related to airway issues in the developing child. If these issues are not resolved, treatment becomes more difficult and overall results compromised. All children in the practice are evaluated visually and recommendations made.
Mixed Dentition (Orthopedic Phase)
Thumb sucking, digital habits, anterior and lateral tongue thrusts, airway problems including mouth breathing and snoring and jaw joint (TMJ) problems must be corrected early with functional appliances. Skeletal problems such as constricted maxillary or mandibular arches and prognathic or retrognathic mandibles are best treated as early as possible with functional appliances in the mixed dentition period of growth.
Permanent Dentition (Orthodontic Phase)
Dental problems are solved with straight wire appliances (fixed) braces in permanent dentition.
One of the main advantages of early treatment is the majority of malocclusions can be corrected without extraction of permanent teeth and non-surgically. Parents favor the use of functional appliances to correct under-developed mandibles in the mixed dentition stage rather than delay treatment until all the permanent teeth erupt. Dentists who are trained to use jaw repositioning appliances such as the Twin Block, Rick-A-Nator, and Schwartz appliances, find it ludicrous to wait when children can be treated in 7 to 12 months non-surgically using functional appliances.
The Benefits of Early Treatment
For those patients who have clear indications for early intervention, early treatment presents the opportunity to:
– Influence jaw growth in a positive manner – Simplify and/ or shorten treatment time
– Harmonize width of the dental arches for later corrective orthodontics
– Improve eruption patterns – Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
– Lower risk of trauma to protruded upper incisors – Improve some speech problems
– Correct harmful oral habits – Preserve/ gain space for erupting permanent teeth
– Improve aesthetics and self-esteem – Improved breathing / airway problems