TMJ Specialist | Erie PA
Most people refer to orthodontic problems as “crooked teeth” or a “bad bite”. When dentists speak about a “bad bite” they refer to this as a malocclusion.
Malocclusions are a result of either genetics or acquired influences on the teeth. Influences that can adversely affect the teeth include sucking of the thumb, enlarged tonsils and adenoids that obstruct the airway, pacifiers, and premature loss of primary or permanent teeth.
Genetic malocclusions usually are caused by too much or too little room for the teeth in the jaw. Malocclusions obviously affect the smile, but they also affect facial development and speech. Children have become more aware of appearance than ever before. Many children who have malocclusions will become very shy and reserved. This can have a lasting impression on a child’s personality. The good news is that all of these problems can be corrected at a young age. There is no reason to wait until a child is twelve or thirteen to treat these problems. This just allows the problems to become more severe, not to mention adversely affecting the social development of the child. The American Association of Orthodontics has promoted early treatment by recommending that all children be screened by age 7.
If you look at your child and tell yourself , “someday he or she will probably need braces”, then they need treatment now.
Take the next step to restore your smile!
Early Treatment – Functional Orthopedic Treatment
We feel children should be evaluated by age four. Early functional orthopedic treatment usually starts when the child has very few adult teeth. The reason we refer to this treatment as orthopedic, is because we are altering the growth of the maxilla and mandible. We are able to analyze where the child needs growth to allow for ideal tooth eruption. The use of functional appliances allows us to develop the maxilla and mandible to establish a perfect bite, and adequate space for all of the adult teeth to erupt. This allows us to virtually eliminate the need for extractions or jaw surgery. These appliances also help us to correctly position the mandible, to avoid TMJ problems. This approach changes the position and shape of the upper and lower jaws. The bones are changing shape and position, and the teeth are moving with the bones. The idea of the teeth moving with bone movement reduces the chance for relapse, when patients forget to wear their retainers.
The alternative orthodontic approach of waiting until all of the adult teeth have erupted, often results in teeth being extracted. The technique of extracting teeth in conjunction with braces is referred to as retraction. Teeth are extracted to create space, and the teeth are retracted back into the space and straightened. This approach in many cases results in straight teeth and unhealthy TMJ joints. It also allows the problems to get worse as the child grows, resulting in often times a compromised result.
Benefits of Early Treatment:
* Corrects harmful habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting
* Improves a child’s smile, facial profile, and self-esteem
* Improves speech
* Increases nasal breathing
* Corrects snoring
* Decreases the length of time for fixed braces, which helps reduce cavities
* Can eliminate TMJ problems
* Virtually eliminates the need for extraction of permanent teeth with braces
* In most cases eliminates the need for jaw surgery.
* Prevents headaches
* Produces a more broad beautiful smile
* Decreases the amount teeth shift after braces if retainers are not worn