Overbites, underbites and incorrect dentition are extremely common. Most kids simply learn to live with slight misalignments without major problems. In some cases, though, misalignments can be severe enough to cause dental health challenges and social embarrassment. Parents, then, must consider taking their kids in for braces.
Braces are not only expensive. Wearing them can involve discomfort, as well. Most families, though, never receive advice from pediatric dentists on the simple approaches available to prevention; they only get to hear about the treatments possible once their child begins to suffer from poorly positioned teeth.
Prevention is possible, but only with the right kind of clinician
An orthodontist is a dental health professional with training in the correction of dentition. Their training helps them see teeth in a completely different perspective to the kind that regular dentists use. They are able to foresee dentition problems long before they occur. While parents rarely bring their children in for preventive visits to the orthodontist, these are important. They are a way to help spare children years of dental health conditions.
How exactly does an orthodontist foresee misalignments?
Incorrect dentition tend to occur for reasons of incorrect growth timing – sometimes, the rate of growth of the jaw fails to keep up with the rate at which the permanent teeth erupt. This results in a situation where the secondary teeth are forced to crowd into the space available. It’s a genetically derived problem. Orthodontists are able to analyze jaw growth, the positions of the permanent teeth awaiting eruption and the positions of the baby teeth already out, to determine how to make enough space.
In some cases, when an orthodontist finds secondary, permanent beginning to erupt with too little space available, he might recommend the extraction of a few primary teeth to make room for them. It can require complex calculations to make the right choices. Only orthodontists have the training to come by the right recommendations.
Is it really important to prevent dental misalignments?
Misaligned teeth can be a severe challenge not only for aesthetic reasons, but for bona fide health reasons, as well.
Dental caries are the primary childhood disease: in America, cavities and tooth decay are the most widespread cause of poor health in childhood. Misalignments are a significant cause of dental caries. Crooked teeth offer plenty of space for stuck food particles, and tend to be difficult to clean.
Speech difficulties were possibility: the teeth have an important role to play in the production of certain sounds. Lisps and other speech impediments are possibility when the teeth are incorrectly positioned. Quick speech can be difficult, as well. Children often need to painstakingly learn whatever techniques they can to work around these challenges.
There can be pain: Uneven dentition requires abnormal chewing action, something that can put uneven pressure on the jaws and teeth, and cause both incorrect development and pain.
Of course, the fact that crooked teeth cause aesthetic issues, is an obvious one. Such problems tend to unnecessarily put a child through considerable anxiety. It is hardly something to be overlooked.
It’s important for parents to realize that correcting dental misalignments is important, primary health care for a child, and hardly a luxury. Whether preventive or corrective, care at some point is important.
What does the corrective process involve?
An orthodontist will attempt to help a child by first using special panoramic x-rays to obtain a clear picture of the way the teeth and the jaws are aligned. With multiple angles to view these primary structures with, and with detailed physical impressions made, the doctor will work on a plan. If the child has been brought in at age 6 or so, preventive action with selective extractions may be possible. If not, the earlier braces go on, the more effective they get to be.
Modern braces are not only far more effective than earlier models and more aesthetically pleasing, they tend to cause less discomfort, as well. There is usually no pain experienced.
It takes smarts to ensure cooperation
It takes both smart parents and creative orthodontists to ensure effective treatment. Children often have a habit of chewing on hard candy, pencils and other inappropriate things, causing frequent breakage. Parents and orthodontists need to be patient, helping kids understand how doing this can only result in having the braces staying on for longer. Over time, learning to care for braces can be great lesson in responsibility.
Dr. Hutta was born and raised in the Columbus area and graduated with honors from the Ohio State College of Biological Sciences and the Ohio Sate College of Dentistry. He then completed a three-year residency program specializing in orthodontics at the Eastman Dental Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine. He has been practicing orthodontics since 1992.