Dr. Lude Article
When should my child visit the orthodontist?
Traditionally the proper age of when to be concerned with orthodontics was considered to be when all permanent teeth were present.
The present day recomendation of the American Association of Orthodontists to parents and patients is that the child should see the dentist at age 3 and see the orthodontist at age 7. At this age, your orthodontist can begin to prepare a course of action to treat preventively, meaning that the need for full orthodontic treatment may be averted by utilizing the child's growth and development. The major advantages are that treatment may be less costly, extraction of permanent teeth may be averted, treatment may be completed while child is still very cooperative, and treatment may be completed before peer pressure begins in his everyday environment.
In addition to the traditional age of orthodontics, great emphasis in dentistry is being placed on proper function of the teeth, jaw relation and aesthetics in children and adult patients. Lack of proper function can result in loss of bone and supporting structures around the teeth, causing early loss of teeth.
There are many philosophies and techniques that are used in orthodontics, however, the overriding goals are to improve function and aesthetics of the jaw structure, teeth and facial pattern. The orthodontic problem can occur by the influence of multiple causes:genetics, airway problems, tongue, muscle problems, thumb or finger habits, missing teeth, syndromic problems and sleep habits, just to name a few. The orthodontic problem does not start with the teeth, but begins with genetics and airway effects on tongue muscles and muscles that shape bone in which teeth erupt.
Therefore, bone modification by means of the orthopedic appliances is a holistic approach to creating space for the full complement of teeth. It also creates space for the tongue, support for the lips and protection for the facial profile. It also prevents aging stress lines, which occur when support of the soft tissue is diminished, such as in extraction of teeth.
After the orthopedic or bone modification stage is completed, the usual orthodontic treatment with brackets and bands (braces) can be accomplished, attaining a full complement of teeth in the finished result. There are many techniques that can be used for treatment, such as ceramic brackets or invisalign, for example. Also, there are other means of bone modification that can be accomplished through orthognathic surgery.
After the active orthodontic phase is complete, the retention phase begins. Retainer appliances are worn to hold the teeth as a unit in perfect alignment until the muscles of the lips, cheeks and tongue can massage the teeth into the proper position. The final tooth position is atttained when muscle pressure of the lips and cheeks are in harmony with muscle pressures of the tongue and the bone function is well develop around the roots of teeth. During or following the retention period, adjustment of the chewing surfaces of the teeth by means of equilibration, may be needed to attain the ultimate in function of the teeth. Dr. Lude's orthodontic practice, has accepted children and adults on a 99% non-extraction basis (except wisdom teeth and orthognathic surgery) for 25 years.