September 30, 2021
Many orthodontic patients begin treatment in their teens once all their permanent teeth are in place and the results are slightly more predictable. However, orthodontics can benefit patients of all ages, especially young children! In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child undergo an initial screening around the time they start second grade. Even if early treatment isn’t necessary right away, coming in early gives Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove the best opportunity to monitor your child’s growth patterns and identify any potential issues before they become anything more serious. Once you understand why early treatment matters, you can set your child up for a lifetime of smiles!
Here at Dudley Smiles, we know that your child’s smile is as special as they are. Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove use a preventative treatment that’s built around a patient’s specific needs at every stage, which allows our team to provide them with exceptional care and superior results. When you schedule a free orthodontic evaluation for your child in our offices in Issaquah and Kent, Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove will take a look at their dental development up to this point and assess their overall oral health. They’ll also check for anything that stands out and may require further observation and possible treatment, whether now and or later.
If Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove detect any potential problems in a child between the ages of 6-9, it may prompt a treatment stage we refer to as interceptive orthodontics.
How do I know if my child is ready for interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics, also known as Phase I orthodontics, is a process we use to identify and diagnose any issues a younger child is experiencing with the growth and development of their teeth or jaw. This allows Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove to begin the most effective treatments at the right time for your child, creating space for the proper development and eruption of the permanent teeth.
Interceptive orthodontics also enhances the growth of a child’s jaw and results in straighter teeth, improved oral health, and a more symmetrical smile. During your child’s first visit with us, Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove will examine their teeth and jaws. If they notice any of the following, interceptive orthodontics may be recommended
- Your child appears to be prone to a problem we want to prevent.
- Your child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept.
- Your child’s jawbones may need some guidance as they grow.
While some developmental issues may correct themselves as a child grows, others may require intervention. Many orthodontic issues are genetic, including gapped or crowded teeth, extra or missing teeth, and several other irregularities. Other problems can be acquired through injury, premature tooth loss, or bad oral habits. Whatever the underlying cause, we know that alignment issues and other problems can affect the way your child’s smile looks, feels, and functions. Interceptive orthodontics allows us to successfully address those concerns!
What are some examples of interceptive orthodontics?
Many parents we speak to in our office are concerned that an orthodontic evaluation for their child will automatically lead to early treatment, but we actually recommend this for only a small percentage of the children we see.
Even if Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove do recommend treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean putting braces on your child right away. Many Phase I treatments don’t even use any brackets or wires! Some of these include:
- using expanders to widen the upper jaw and provide space for very crowded teeth
- placing teeth spacers to save a spot for permanent teeth if a primary tooth has been lost early due to injury or decay
- removing one or more of the primary teeth to guide the proper placement of the permanent teeth
- using smaller, less intrusive temporary braces or clear aligners to make small adjustments in preparation for full treatment
At Dudley Smiles, we follow the normal patterns of dental growth and development in children. We can treat problems in children whose mouths are still developing with relative ease. However, treatment often becomes more complex and sometimes more invasive once their jawbones stop growing around the ages of 16-18.
By taking advantage of interceptive orthodontics, Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove are often able to achieve lasting results for many common issues and lessen the impact of others! It is important to note that most patients will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process.
Keep your child’s smile on the right track as they grow
You probably know that regular dental visits are essential for keeping your child’s smile healthy, but did you know that regular orthodontic visits also have a multitude of benefits? Even if we don’t detect any oral issues during your child’s initial evaluation, follow-up visits as they grow to allow Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove to:
- monitor the progress of the adult teeth as they begin to emerge
- monitor the progress of the facial and jaw development
- reduce the need for jaw surgery later in life
- guide emerging teeth into the ideal positions
- detect any hidden dental problems
- reduce the risk of impacted teeth
- reduce the risk of needing tooth extractions in the future
By proactively tackling orthodontic issues in this way, our expert team is in the best position to give children the customized care they need when they need it the most, setting them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Help your child enjoy a lifetime of smiles with Dudley Smiles
Like many things in life, orthodontics is best used as a preventive measure. While early treatment won’t be necessary for every child, it can truly make a huge difference for those who do need it! Understanding the importance of early treatment helps you to get a handle on your child’s orthodontic issues early on and can help prevent the development of more serious problems later on, saving you time and money.
With proper planning, interceptive orthodontics can help improve your child’s tooth and jaw alignment and restore their optimal tooth and bite function. This leads to more stable results, better self-confidence, and a beautifully aligned smile!
If you have a child who’s ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at their dental development so far. Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Dudley and Dr. Freelove at our offices in Issaquah and Kent.