What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems in "malocclusion" which means bad bite. The practice of orthodontics requires professional skill in the design, application, and control of corrective appliances, such as braces, to bring teeth, lips, and jaws into proper alignment to achieve facial balance.
What Causes Orthodontic Problems?
Most malocclusions are inherited, and some are acquired. Inherited problems include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra teeth, congenitally missing teeth, and a wide range of discrepancies of the jaws, teeth, and face. Acquired problems can be caused by trauma, thumb or finger sucking, airway obstruction by tonsils and adenoids, dental diseases, and premature loss of baby or adult teeth. Many of these problems affect not only alignment of the teeth, but also facial development and appearance as well.
How Do I Know If My Child Needs Orthodontic Treatment?
It is usually difficult for you to determine if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Also, there
are some problems that look intimidating and complex which will resolve on their own. As a Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Michael is an expert in growth and development of the teeth and jaw.
Our complimentary initial orthodontic exam is comprehensive and informative.
We would be happy to see your child and make any recommendations necessary.
What Are The Early Signs Of Orthodontic Problems?
Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following signs may help in prompting you to seek orthodontic advice: crowded or overlapping teeth, gaps between the teeth, top front teeth not meeting with bottom teeth, and top front teeth covering more than 50% of the bottom teeth. If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, your child may have a skeletal problem, which may require early orthodontic treatment. These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.
At What Age Should My Child Have an Orthodontic Evaluation?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. An orthodontic screening no later that age seven enables us to detect and evaluate problems that exist, advise if treatment will be necessary, and determine the best time for the treatment. Early detection of any orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.
Please call our office for a complimentary orthodontic exam at 870-774-3278.
Is Orthodontic Treatment Painful?
Orthodontic treatment has improved dramatically. As a rule, braces make your teeth slightly tender for a few days, but it is not painful. This annoyance can be relieved with an over-the-counter analgesic. Today's braces are more comfortable and use technology that reduces the discomfort. We use the latest in biocompatible braces, the advanced technique with light force and the highest quality of orthodontic materials, in order to reduce discomfort and treatment time.
What is Phase I (Interceptive) and Phase II (Comprehensive) Treatment?
Phase I or Interceptive Treatment usually starts when the child is in mixed dentition (a combination of primary and permanent teeth). This stage in development is usually about the age of seven to nine. The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept a moderate or severe orthodontic problem early in order to reduce or eliminate it. These problems include skeletal discrepancies, cross bites, and severe crowding. Phase I (age appropriate treatment) can help to reduce the amount of treatment needed in the future. Esthetics and function can be improved at an earlier age. This often helps reduce the need for extraction or surgery and may contribute to better long-term stability. Most Phase I patients require a second phase of treatment in order to achieve an ideal final bite.
Phase II treatment usually occurs a few years later. Usually we are waiting for the remaining permanent teeth to erupt, including second molars before Phase II begins. This most commonly occurs at the age of 12 or 13. The goal of Phase II treatment is to achieve an ideal bite with all of the permanent teeth.
Does Everyone Need a Phase Treatment?
Not every child needs a Phase I treatment. Only some children with certain bites require early intervention. All others can wait until most if not all their permanent teeth erupt. However, it is important that every child be evaluated by age seven.
What is the Duration of Orthodontic Treatment?
Braces may be on between 6 months to 30 months, or in rare instances longer. This depends on the development of the dentition, the severity of the problem, the patient's cooperation, and the degree of tooth movement required.
Is Orthodontic Care Expensive?
When Orthodontic treatment is implemented at the proper time, treatment is often less costly than the dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop years later. Orthodontic fees have not increased as fast as many other consumer products. Financing is usually available and our office offers payment plans that will meet your needs. In addition, many insurance plans now include orthodontics.
Michael G. Wharton-Palmer, DDS
Pediatric Dental Specialist
Infants | Children | Teens
Healthy Kids Start with Healthy Smiles
Why choose a pediatric dentist?
A Pediatric Dentist, like Dr. Wharton-Palmer, is a specialist dedicated to the oral health of children and the monitoring of their facial growth and development. Our office is designed for treating children from infancy through adolescence, as well as the medically and the physically compromised. In our opinion, taking your child to see a pediatric dental specialist is as important as taking them to see a pediatrician.
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