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8 Orthodontic Conditions Early Intervention Can Treat
It is not necessary to delay orthodontic evaluation for a child until all the permanent teeth come in. In fact, according to the current recommendation from orthodontists, all children should have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. Seven years old is the target because at that age, children's mouths contain a mixture of permanent teeth and baby teeth. This makes it possible for an orthodontist to assess the child's oral health and identify potential problems.
Sometimes no treatment is necessary at all. In many cases, the orthodontist may defer treatment until a child is older, and all the permanent teeth have come in. However, there are also cases in which early intervention may be helpful. Early orthodontic intervention is defined as treatment that begins before all of a child's baby teeth have been lost.
Conditions treated by early orthodontic intervention
Many, though not all, of the conditions early intervention effectively treats are forms of malocclusion, i.e., abnormalities of the bite.
1. Protruding teeth
This occurs when teeth stick out at an angle rather than extending downward. Protruding teeth may be vulnerable to fracture or chipping.
Crossbite occurs when some or all of the upper teeth close on the inside of the lower teeth rather than on the outside. It can occur in either the front teeth or the back teeth.
3. Thumb sucking/tongue thrusting
These habits can result in orthodontic problems. Because the bones of the palate do not fuse together until adolescence, placing pressure on the roof of the mouth by sucking on a thumb or finger can cause the bones to shift position. A similar effect can occur by thrusting the tongue against the back of the teeth and/or the roof of the mouth.
4. Mouth breathing
Alterations in the muscular function of the face and tongue may lead to mouth breathing, an abnormal respiratory pattern. A physical difficulty may cause mouth breathing initially, but over time, it can become a habit. Like thumb sucking and tongue thrusting, mouth breathing can result in an open bite, which occurs when the front teeth do not come together all the way.
Crowding occurs when there is not enough room in the mouth for the permanent teeth. As a result, the permanent teeth come in crooked.
Spacing is the opposite of crowding. There is more room in the mouth than is needed. Therefore, gaps form between the permanent teeth.
7. Ankylosed teeth
Tooth ankylosis is a rare condition in which the tooth becomes fused to the jawbone and cannot erupt properly. If a baby tooth becomes ankylosed, there is no room for the permanent tooth to come in. It is often necessary to remove an ankylosed baby tooth to clear a space for the permanent tooth.
When the lower jaw grows too much, it can extend beyond the upper jaw. As a result, the bottom front teeth cover up the top front teeth.
Orthodontic treatment can take place at any age, but some conditions are easier to treat when the child is young and before all the permanent teeth have come in. A course of early intervention can help decrease the overall time needed for treatment.
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