Let’s talk kids and crooked teeth and braces.
The philosophy of orthodontics has evolved through the years. Today, the buzzword for straightening teeth is functional jaw orthopedics. That’s a fancy way of saying that we no longer just make teeth straight. Modern orthodontics looks at the big picture to include teeth, jaw bones, bedwetting, skull bones, posture, ADHD, jaw joints, airway, sleeping and breathing habits. There’s a lot more involved with a child’s crooked teeth than just crooked teeth.
The goal of functional orthopedics is to bring all of the different parts together in harmony to make a beautiful smile with healthy jaw joints and open airways.
Traditionally, kids got braces when they got their permanent teeth around twelve years of age. In certain cases, treatment has now changed. Studies show that at twelve years of age a child’s jaws are mostly done growing. That means dentists are limited as to how much we can expand jaw size to fit in all those big adult teeth. In the past, this lead to having to pull perfectly good teeth to make room for the remaining to line up. As a younger dentist, this never made sense to me. As a parent, it makes even less sense. Today, we see too many adults with jaw joint problems and extracted premolar teeth for us to feel comfortable treating our patients this way.
Today, we strive to catch early jaw problems and guide jaw growth so that teeth rarely have to be pulled. This is functional jaw orthopedics.
Dentists can check your child’s bite as soon as they get all of their baby teeth. As they continue to grow, we monitor their occlusion and jaw growth with exams and x-rays. We also look for and intervene with other problems like thumb sucking, airway issues, and tongue thrusting that can disrupt proper development. If things aren’t matching up, we can step in and place a special appliance that can help things develop evenly and correctly. This doesn’t always prevent your child from having to get braces, but it can make their time in braces shorter and hopefully, prevents them from having teeth pulled, or major jaw surgery.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Questions, comments, or suggestions can be emailed to Drs. Chip and Jennifer Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.