Most of us associate orthopedic treatment with teenagers. It has become more common for adults to undergo orthodontic treatment, but it’s still seen as a rite of passage for many teens.
But did you know that some children can benefit from early intervention orthopedic treatment? It’s called dentofacial orthopedics, and it’s a special focus at the office of Denise DiBona, DDS.
As a dentist, Dr. DiBona has undergone additional training in this area because she wants your children’s teeth to come in as well as they can.
If your family comes to our dentist office in Red Bank, NJ, for routine cleanings and examinations, we will monitor the development of your children’s mouths.
Our goal is to prevent or minimize the orthodontic care they may need as they grow.
What Are Dentofacial Orthopedics?
Let’s work backward a bit to explain.
Orthodontics is a field of dentistry focused on correcting alignment problems with teeth.
You may think of braces or products like Invisalign as examples of orthodontics.
Generally, orthodontics are used after a patient’s permanent teeth have come in. This way we know what the problems are and what needs to be done to fix them.
Dentofacial orthopedics tries to address the problems as they are developing. This is also known as early intervention orthodontics.
As part of this effort, it’s important for your children to make routine visits to the dentists for cleanings and examinations.
These appointments aren’t just about cleaning your children’s teeth. We take X-rays so we can monitor changes in your child’s mouth and teeth as his or her baby teeth come in and as they fall out to make room for your son or daughter’s permanent teeth.
During this time, we may take steps to make sure the permanent teeth have room to erupt or we may guide how the permanent teeth emerge. This can greatly reduce problems that your child may experience later.
Reasons For Early Intervention
One reason we may recommend early intervention is due to spacing.
If your child’s arches are not big enough to accommodate his or her adult teeth, we may try Phase I intervention. During this stage, we may intervene to encourage arch development and expansion.
This can create more space for the adult teeth to erupt without problems.
Another reason for early intervention would be if your child loses a baby tooth sooner than he or she should.
Baby teeth serve as a guide for your son or daughter’s permanent teeth. If the baby tooth isn’t there, the neighboring teeth can drift toward the vacant space. This too can cause problems.
In cases like this, we may recommend a space maintainer. This will hold the neighboring teeth where they are supposed to stay, and it makes it more likely that your son or daughter’s adult teeth will come in correctly.
In other cases, your son or daughter’s baby teeth may not fall out like they are supposed to. The solution in this case may be to remove the tooth to create the necessary room for an adult tooth to erupt.
If the baby tooth is not removed, the permanent tooth will could erupt behind the baby tooth. This can create serious problems later.
When To Intervene
We hope you and your children are already making regular visits to our office. It’s sometimes possible to start interventions as early as age 4.
Orthodontic treatment is safe, but we also know taking steps to reduce or even eliminate the need for orthodontics is good for everyone involved.
This means your child is less likely to experience alignment problems, and if they do still have issues, they will be mild or moderate instead of severe.
This kind of early intervention also may reduce your child’s risk of developing sleep apnea.
If you schedule a consultation appointment with Denise DiBona, DDS, we will examine your child’s teeth closely.
If we find any problems, we will explain what they are and discuss the treatment options available.
We welcome and encourage you to ask questions, too. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to let us know.
Dentofacial orthopedics is a proactive approach to correcting your child’s alignment problems, rather than being reactive and waiting for his or her adult teeth to erupt.
If we can stop a problem before it starts, that will make future treatments easier on everyone involved, especially for your son or daughter.