Skillful Pediatric Orthodontics for Better Children's Dental Health in Tonawanda, NY
Peter A. Rouff DMD PLLC
of Tonawanda, New York
, takes your children's dental health
seriously. He uses pediatric orthodontics to stop problems fast and to accurately correct those that have already developed.
Good Dental Health Begins Early
The American Dental Association recommends that a child first visit the family dentist between the ages of six and 12 months, or while the child's primary (baby) teeth are erupting. It is an excellent time to lay the foundation for a lifetime of good dental habits.
At this early age, the pattern of dental eruption can be seen, and the parent can be alerted to developmental changes that might occur. This allows the child's first experiences with the dentist to be positive. It also helps establish a good attitude toward dental care.
At the first checkup, you and your child probably will receive instructions on proper oral care and advice on the importance of a proper diet. Thereafter, regular visits will be necessary to detect problems early and to maintain good dental health.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child's first visit to an orthodontist take place when an orthodontic problem is first detected. Depending on the nature of the problem, this first visit could take place as early as age two or three, as the primary teeth erupt.
Whether or not an orthodontic problem is detected, however, a child should visit an orthodontist for a checkup no later than age seven. This may surprise you because orthodontic treatment usually is associated with adolescence.
Although treatment will not necessarily begin at this early age, an examination is important to ensure maximum dental health for your child. An orthodontic examination is advisable any time a particular problem is noted by the parent, family dentist, or child's physician. The following early warning signs may indicate that your child should have an orthodontic examination:
- Early or Late Loss of Teeth
- Difficulty in Chewing or Biting
- Mouth Breathing
- Finger Sucking or Other Oral Habits
- Crowding, Misplaced, or Blocked-out Teeth
- Jaws That Shift or Make Sounds
- Speech Difficulty
- Biting the Cheek or into the Roof of the Mouth
- Protruding Teeth
- Teeth That Meet in an Abnormal Manner or Don't Meet at All
- Facial Imbalance
- Jaws That Protrude or Retrude
- Grinding or Clenching of the Teeth
The Benefits of Early Diagnosis
Orthodontists can improve smiles at any age, but there is an optimum time for treatment to begin. An early examination allows the orthodontic specialist to determine how and when a child's particular problem should be treated for maximum improvement, requiring the least amount of time and providing the greatest benefit. With some patients, early treatment achieves results that are unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Recognizing an orthodontic problem at an early age does not always result in early treatment. After evaluating your child, the orthodontist may simply want to check your child periodically while the permanent teeth are erupting and the jaws and face continue to grow. However, if your child has a problem that requires attention, your orthodontist may recommend interceptive treatment. Early intervention, which takes advantage of facial growth and tooth eruption, can lessen the severity of a problem, and it frequently makes the completion of treatment at a later age less time-consuming and less expensive.
Interceptive treatment may be beneficial in:
- Avoiding fracture or loss of protruding teeth
- Assuring that the jaws and teeth meet properly during chewing and swallowing
- Eliminating adverse habits such as thumb-finger sucking, tongue thrusting and lip habits
- Correcting early alignment of teeth
- Enhancing proper speech development
- Evaluating breathing problems that may adversely affect normal growth and jaw shape
- Correcting crossbite, tooth grinding, tooth interference and lower jaw displacement
- Coordinating the extraction of primary (baby) teeth with the family dentist and allowing for proper eruption of permanent teeth
- Improving self-image
Types of Orthodontic Problems
The technical term for teeth and jaws that do not fit and work together properly is "malocclusion," commonly called a "bad bite." Most malocclusions are inherited, but some are acquired.
Inherited problems include crowding or spacing of the teeth caused by a difference in the size of the teeth and jaws or differing facial patterns of the parents.
Acquired malocclusions can be caused by finger sucking, tongue position, airway obstruction, dental disease, or premature loss or retention of the primary (baby) teeth.
Whether inherited or acquired, many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth but also facial appearance. It also is important to note that orthodontic problems can be present behind perfectly acceptable smiles. An orthodontic specialist is especially qualified to diagnose existing or potential conditions that require treatment.
The Importance of Treatment
Every parent wants his or her child to have a beautiful smile - and every child should have a healthy smile with properly functioning teeth. The orthodontist's goal is to achieve both for the patient.
Untreated malocclusions may contribute to conditions that cause tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction, loss of teeth, mouth breathing and jaw joint problems. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is truly applicable here.
In addition, uncorrected problems can adversely affect a child's speech, general health and self-esteem.
A Child's self-confidence almost always increases when his or her smile is improved. This also has an impact on those around the child - parents, siblings, teachers and other children. Successful treatment can lead to greater success in all areas of the child's life. In short, the value of a beautiful, healthy smile should not be underestimated.
Some things have to be done right the first time. Orthodontic treatment will change your child's teeth and can improve facial appearance. So you'll want a specialist to treat your child.
Orthodontists limit their practice to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics unless they also have qualified in another American Dental Association (ADA) recognized specialty.* By completing an advanced education program following dental school, they have learned the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial development.
Members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) are orthodontic specialists. They have met the exacting standards of education and experience set by the ADA and required by the AAO for membership.
Upon request, the AAO will furnish you with a list of members in your area. Your family dentist also can refer you to an AAO member.
Encouraging good dental health habits and providing professional dental care at an early age produce benefits that can last your child a lifetime.
*Advanced education programs in orthodontics must include two or more academic years of full-time formal training in a program sponsored by an institution properly chartered and licensed to operate and offer instruction leading to degrees, diplomas or certificates with recognized educational validity. (From: Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Dental Association, July 1992.)
Contact our office for pediatric orthodontics that maintains children's dental health.