Preventative orthodontics, (early treatment) can be initiated for very young patients to prevent abnormal jaw development and create space for the permanent teeth before they erupt. Dr. Lawrence prefers to see children by the age of five to assess whether the jaws are growing properly. In cases of severe jaw imbalance, he treats children as young as 3 years of age.
Ninety percent of facial growth occurs before the age of twelve, the same age at which the last few permanent teeth erupt into the mouth. Early treatment captures the growth time. Traditional orthodontics that begins after eruption of the permanent teeth usually requires the extraction of four premolars and movement of the remaining teeth into alignment. The patient has straight teeth and a more attractive lip line and smile, but the extractions compromise the integrity of the jaws and the occlusion, as well as the maintenance of the correction. Teeth which are moved after they have erupted fully into the mouth have a tendency to move back into their original position. Jaws left to grow disproportionately often require surgical correction.
In early treatment orthodontics, unobtrusive appliances, which even the child forgets but 72 hours after placement, guides growth of a weak chin into a normal-sized lower jaw. Similar appliances prevent protruded upper and lower jaws. Narrow, high palates are widened and flattened, reversing the effects of thumb-sucking, mouth-breathing or just genetic predisposition. “While the child’s facial growth is being enhanced the deciduous teeth come out in the natural course, and the permanent teeth erupt in the proper uncrowded space created by early treatment,” says Dr. Lawrence. “Now the child does not need extractions, and instead of moving fully erupted teeth, they are simply guided into perfect occlusion.” Teeth moved into ideal position while they are still erupting are more stable and tend not to move years later after treatment is completed.
- Eliminates the need to pull permanent teeth.
- Provides facial growth guidance and ideal jaw development.
- More stable result – less tendency for long term shifting of the teeth.
- A Healthier bite provides more stability for theTemporomandibular Joints.
- Muscle development provides better facial contours and a more attractive face and smile.
- Eliminates the need for more complex facial aesthetic procedures and/or jaw surgery.
Early Intervention Treatment, between 6 to 10 years of age helps ensure ideal results. By starting early, while the face is in its most active stage of growth, the muscles and bones can be guided to ideal contours and function. Growing the bones to ideal positions provides adequate room for all the teeth to fit and provides for optimum facial aesthetics.
The long term results are more beautiful faces, prettier smiles and a more stable, healthier bite. There are all positives and no negatives to early treatment. Depending on how early treatment is started and the child’s development, treatment is often broken up into two short phases, rather than one long treatment. The end result is the best treatment that orthodontics can provide.