Benefits of early prevention
While the timeline will vary from child to child, your child’s first adult molars will emerge around the age of 6 or 7. These molars will help to establish your child’s backbite, which is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children visit a pediatric orthodontist by the age of 7. This early appointment will allow Dr. Henderson to evaluate your child’s teeth for easily treatable misalignment issues such as crossbite. If Dr. Henderson detects any issues in your child’s bite, they may undergo early treatment, which can reduce your child’s need for more extensive procedures later in life by:
- Making room in their mouth for overcrowded teeth.
- Ensuring facial symmetry.
- Reducing trauma from protruding front teeth.
While early treatment is an option, most cases do not require extensive treatment, and Dr. Henderson will only monitor your child’s growth patterns at each visit. This close observation allows us to keep careful records of your child’s smile and start future treatments faster for efficient results.
When children come into our office, we may only need to monitor their growth and potential issues. Our most popular treatment for children is a palate expander. A palate expander is an excellent treatment option for children because their upper jaws develop as two separate halves that fuse after puberty. A palate expander will gently widen and stabilize your child’s upper jaw over a few months to treat and prevent bite misalignment. The three dental issues which commonly require a palate expansion are crossbite, impacted teeth and overcrowding. Using a palate expander will limit the need for tooth removal later in life and improve your child’s breathing. Expanding your child’s upper jaw can also benefit your child for aesthetic purposes by straightening and broadening their smile. Each palate expander is custom-made and contains two metal halves connected in the middle with a small screw. These two halves fit over the top back teeth, and you will use a special key to turn the screw a small amount each day to create tension in the mouth. Over time this tension will cause the two bones to move apart slowly. While your child is undergoing palate expander treatment, they may experience:
- Soreness or pressure after turning the expander key.
- Difficulty speaking and eating normally for a short time as they adjust to the expander.
- Increased production of saliva.