Early Orthodontic Treatment
September 4, 2012 by wong
As the summer starts to wind down, I do hope you and your family were able to enjoy the wonderful offerings of the season; the joys of biking, going to the beach and the abundant sunshine are all integral parts of summer.
As most of you may be aware, I love being a dentist! I find my day-to-day schedule fun, fulfilling, varied and enjoyable. Graduating from the University of Toronto School of Dentistry helped lay the foundation for my lifelong odyssey in learning and developing my knowledge and skills in dentistry. One of the reasons I chose dentistry as a profession was that the dental profession has helped me personally. When I was younger, I required orthodontic treatment, but four healthy permanent teeth were extracted to “make room”. While I am happy with the end result, I wish that I could have saved those four permanent teeth.
As I found out, through countless continuing education courses, there is another view of orthodontics. The Europeans, in particular Scandinavians and South Americans have viewed “braces” or orthodontic treatment in an entirely different light. Rather than wait for all the “adult teeth” to erupt and then perform orthodontic treatment, like we do here in North America, the Europeans prefer to utilize the growth of the child to facilitate room. The utilization of a child’s growth growth provides many benefits including:
Providing enough space for ALL adult teeth to erupt Improving the airway and breathing, thus increasing oxygen to the ever growing child Corrects any malocclusions or “bad bite” Helps develop a nice, broad smile Possibly avoid braces as a teenager
On a day-to-day basis, worried parents constantly ask me whether or not their child needs braces. Often times, these children are 6, 7, 8 years of age and either the child or the parent has identified the “crooked” or bucked” teeth. The signs and symptoms of insufficient space are present at this stage in the child’s development, but the traditional North American view is to wait until they are 13 or 14 before doing any treatment. Dentists have the ability and skills to utilize the child’s growth and development to help facilitate space in the oral cavity to allow the child’s adults teeth to erupt properly. Why not address and correct the problem today rather than wait a few years and take out healthy teeth to provide “room” for the rest of the teeth? The early treatment philosophy is gaining ground in North America as dentists and parents alike are becoming more aware of the benefits of early orthodontic treatment. While early treatment is beneficial for the majority of children, there are a small percentage of children that will still require an extraction of a tooth/teeth due to the relative sizes of the tooth vs jaw.
I am a firm believer that early orthodontic treatment is the proper treatment for young children who most likely require braces in the near future. The hope is to utilize the child’s growth and development to provide sufficient room for the teeth rather than extracting healthy adult teeth. I hope this sheds a different light on your view of “traditional braces”. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or drop in for a visit.