Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. If children over the age of six are found to have jaw discrepancy or crowded teeth, early treatment can prevent the need to extract permanent teeth later.
Early age or preventive treatment consists in modifying the growth direction of the two jaw bones in order to harmonise them. The goal is to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together.
Not every child receives early orthodontic treatment. In some cases it may be recommended that the child wait until all the permanent teeth have erupted.
Absence of early age orthodontic intervention can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may not completely fix your smile. Early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results.
``Planning early can save your smile later!``
Early age treatment often includes palate and/or mandibular expansion, maxilla traction, molar distalisation and correction of harmful habits.
The expansion is more often palatal using an expander that expands the upper jaw by putting pressure on the upper molars. The expander exerts force on the palate bones resulting in:
• An increase in the width of the upper arch
• An increase in the width of the nasal floor
• An increase the airway volume (prevent sleep apnea and snoring)
• and making room for crowded teeth
Molar distalisation consist in pushing back the molars in order to create space in the arch. This is done when there is lack of space for the eruption of adult canines and premolars. This lack of space is usually due to decay or early extraction of the milk teeth.
Harmful habits usually include thumb suction, breathing through the mouth and bad positioning of the tongue, etc..
Wearing of appliances will help to correct these harmful habits and improve jaws growth.
The anti-inch grid helps to stop thumb suction by preventing the child from sucking the thumb.
Nocturnal lingual envelope (or thumb positioner) helps in better positioning of the tongue by activating the different tongue muscles
Maxillary traction consists in moving forward the upper jaw. This is achieved by wearing a face mask.
The “Face Mask” is used to correct skeletal Class III malocclusions. These types of occlusions are characterized by upper teeth that fit behind or in contact with the lower teeth in the front as well as back teeth. In these cases the upper jaw is not growing fast enough to keep up with (to cover) the lower jaw.
Mandibular traction consists in moving forward the lower jaw. This can be achieved by wearing of an orthodontic activator.
The activator is used to correct skeletal II malocclusions. These types of occlusions are characterized by upper teeth that extends over beyond the front of the lower teeth in the front as well as back teeth. In these cases the lower jaw is not growing fast enough to keep up with the upper jaw.
Following the active period of the early age treatment, the patient is required to wear the appliance for several months in order to consolidate the result obtained and to prevent regression.
At the end of this phase, teeth may not be at their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary.