Early Ortho Treatment in Lancaster, PA

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What is Early Ortho Treatment?

At Lancaster Pediatric Dental Associates, we have years of experience helping children and teenagers with their orthodontic treatment. Generally, the perfect time to start orthodontic care is earlier during a child’s life. Based on information from the American Association of Orthodontics, they suggest that children have an orthodontic assessment at age seven. Addressing orthodontic concerns earlier rather than later in children’s lives can decrease harmful oral conditions and dental problems for the future.

Because children are still experiencing bone and tooth development, we can help guide the proper growth of permanent teeth, bite alignment, and jaw development. Waiting later in life may make it more difficult to address certain problems down the road because the bones are still easily adjusted at this point. Please schedule a consultation with one of our Lancaster, PA orthodontists to learn more.

What Are The Benefits of Early Ortho Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment is an excellent way to help your child attain a stunning, healthy smile in their early development stages. Some of the primary advantages of early orthodontic treatment include:

  • Reduced risk of future bite or other dental problems
  • Boosted self-confidence
  • Improved overall oral health
  • Restores proper bite functionality

Who Is An Ideal Candidate for Early Ortho Treatments?

Typically, orthodontic conditions start around the ages 9 – 14 or after losing all the baby teeth and the adult teeth have fully grown in. However, for some younger patients, starting orthodontic treatments may be more beneficial to begin earlier in their life.

Starting at about age six, your child’s molars will start to grow and erupt. We review the position of these first molars as a baseline for your child’s orthodontic needs. We look at things, like occlusal classification, jaw and facial profile, and alignment issues. By reviewing these parts of the mouth, our orthodontists can help ensure permanent teeth have enough space to grow into. Your child may also benefit from early orthodontic intervention if they have issues, like:

  • Bite problems, such as crossbites or underbites
  • Teeth that stick out
  • Mouth breathing or thumb-sucking issues, which cause irregular development of the upper and lower jaw

When treating these issues during the development stage, we can decrease the possibility of your child requiring more extensive treatments in the future.

What Should We Expect During Early Ortho Treatment?

If we think your child may benefit from early orthodontic care, we begin by performing low-radiation digital x-rays and 3D imaging to create impressions. We also physically assess your child’s jaw joints, facial profile, and mouth to look for basic indicators that necessitate early treatment. During this appointment, we create a personalized treatment plan, which may include orthodontic appliances, such as palatal expanders and space maintainers. These devices encourage the bones to stretch so your child experiences normal tooth eruption. If they have baby teeth that prevent adult ones from growing in, teeth extractions may be needed to accommodate the grown-up tooth. Additionally, some children may need headgear or traditional braces to meet their needs.

What Is the Follow-Up for Early Ortho Treatment Plans?

Based on your child’s treatment plan, we may need them to come into the office every month for adjustments to their appliances and continued monitoring. Our skilled team of dental professionals will teach your child how to floss and clean around their appliance so they can use best practices at home. If your child needs braces or a palatal expander, they may find it difficult to follow proper cleaning techniques, which may require extra support. We recommend helping them to ensure proper oral care. In some cases, patients may need additional cleaning instruments to reduce plaque accumulation around wires, brackets, and other hardware.   

Are Early Ortho Treatments Covered By Dental Insurance?

In most cases, some of your child's orthodontic treatments are covered. If a treatment or procedure is necessary, our financial team will contact your provider to determine if you have any extra expenses. Lancaster Pediatric Dental Associates takes many payment methods, such as low-interest financing, that could help make your child's orthodontic care a lot easier to afford.

Early Orthodontic Treatment FAQ

How are early orthodontic treatment for children and traditional orthodontics different?
Early orthodontic treatment at our Lancaster, PA office lays the foundation for a child's permanent teeth. The difference between early and traditional orthodontics being that traditional ortho begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, whereas early ortho begins where there are still baby teeth in the mouth.

What causes orthodontic issues?
Orthodontic issues can arise from a variety of factors, including genetics, which play a significant role in determining the structure of the jaw and teeth alignment. Bad habits such as thumb sucking, prolonged use of a pacifier, and incorrect swallowing can also influence the development of the teeth and jaw. Environmental factors, like early loss of baby teeth, accidents, or specific health conditions, can further contribute to the need for orthodontic treatment.

What are the most common early ortho issues?
The most common early orthodontic issues include overcrowding, where there's not enough space in the jaw for all the teeth to fit properly, leading to misalignment. Crossbites, where the upper and lower teeth don't align correctly side-to-side, and overbites or underbites, where the upper or lower teeth protrude significantly beyond the other, are also prevalent. Additionally, open bites, where the front teeth don't touch when the jaws are closed, and spacing issues, where gaps exist between teeth due to missing teeth or disproportionate jaw size, frequently prompt early orthodontic consultations. Addressing these issues promptly can prevent more serious problems later on and facilitate healthier dental development.

Can my child's teeth straighten themselves as permanent teeth come in?
Teeth will shift a bit; however, they will not grow straight unless there is enough space in the mouth, which typically is not the case once molars start erupting. In situations where there isn't enough space in the mouth for teeth to go straight, we often suggest braces.

If my child undergoes early ortho treatment, will they still need braces later on?
Early orthodontic treatment aims to correct bite problems and make room for permanent teeth to come in properly. It's designed to address issues that, if left untreated, could create more complex problems in the future. However, undergoing early treatment does not guarantee that your child won't need braces or further orthodontic interventions later on. Many children who receive early treatment do indeed require braces during their adolescent years to fine-tune the alignment of their permanent teeth and ensure a proper bite.

What makes early ortho more beneficial than orthodontics as an adult?
One of the main benefits of early orthodontics is it takes into consideration what will happen inside the mouth as the patient ages. That means we can preplan as a way to avoid extracting teeth, performing surgery, and more. If orthodontics doesn't happen until all the baby teeth have fallen out (around 13 years old), the jaw has likly stopped growing, treatment will take longer, and the chances of an extraction are higher.

Take Action Early

Help your children achieve a beautiful, healthy smile early on. Our orthodontic team at Lancaster Pediatric Dental Associates strives to provide positive and helpful care to our Lancaster, PA families and their children. By treating problems early, we can reduce the chances of significant functional problems that hinder good oral health. Please schedule a consultation to learn more about early ortho treatments.

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