Early Treatment

Orthodontic Treatment for Kids in Niagara Falls, ON

At Niagara Peninsula Orthodontics, we're proud to help patients throughout Niagara Falls, Fonthill, Beamsville, and St. Catharines, ON achieve beautiful, healthy new smiles. As a comprehensive orthodontic practice, we offer comprehensive orthodontic care to patients of all ages in our offices, and sometimes, the best way to achieve a beautiful smile is to start early. And that might mean earlier than you think!

When Should My Child See the Orthodontist?

Parents often ask us when they should first bring their child to see the orthodontist, and that's an important question. As it turns out, your child's first orthodontic visit should happen early. In keeping with the Canadian Association of Orthodontists, we ask parents to bring children in for an initial examination around age 7. At this age, the back bite is fully established, which means your Beamsville orthodontist can spot both current problems and issues that may come up in the future. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean we'll start treatment right away: in many cases, we'll elect to simply monitor your child's growth until the right time for treatment. But all the same, it's important to schedule your child's first orthodontic visit by age 7.

Why Would My Child Need Early Orthodontic Treatment?

For most patients, we'll opt to wait until adolescence to start treatment. But in some cases, we may recommend starting treatment early. Early orthodontic treatment, also called interceptive orthodontic treatment, allows us to take advantage of your child's natural growth to correct orthodontic problems, letting us easily fix issues that would require much more extensive treatments later in life.

Ultimately, the only way to determine if your child needs early treatment is through an examination by one of our Niagara Falls orthodontists. However, any of the following warning signs may indicate that your child needs early  treatment:

  • Early or late baby tooth loss – most children start losing teeth at age 5 and have all permanent teeth around age 13
  • Protruding teeth that extend outwards from the mouth
  • Teeth that don't meet normally or at all when the mouth is closed
  • Crowded front teeth after age 7 or 8
  • Your child shifts his or her jaw when they open or close their mouth
  • Speech impediments
  • Difficulty chewing or biting things
  • Mouth breathing
  • Prolonged thumb sucking (after age 4)

What Can Early Orthodontics Treat?

Usually, we'll recommend early treatment if your child has one of a few specific orthodontic conditions. These conditions normally affect the growth of the jaws, which means we can use early treatment to influence jaw growth and correct the underlying structural issues. Early treatment is followed by the resting phase, where we'll monitor your child's development until the second phase of treatment, during adolescence.

While the specifics of your child's condition may vary, we'll normally recommend early treatment for the following orthodontic conditions:

  • Crowding: Crowding is the most common reason for braces, and in more severe cases, we may recommend early orthodontic treatment. Crowding occurs when there isn't enough room in the dental arch to accommodate the teeth. During childhood, the two halves of the jaw aren't yet fused together, so we can use a device called a palatal expander to gradually, painlessly widen the upper jaw, creating more room in the mouth and allowing the teeth to grow in straighter.
  • Protrusion: For children who have front teeth that protrude out from the mouth, we may recommend early treatment as a preventive measure. Protruding teeth are at an increased risk of trauma, so correcting the problem early minimizes the chances of tooth damage and supports health dental development.
  • Underbite: Underbite occurs when the bottom front teeth sit outside the upper front teeth when the mouth is closed. We can use early treatment to influence jaw growth and help solve this problem quickly and conveniently.

Correcting Childhood Habits

In some cases, we may recommend early treatment to correct certain habits that can have a detrimental effect on your child's dental development. The most common are prolonged thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing:

  • Prolonged Thumb Sucking: The sucking reflex is a normal and natural instinct, and during infancy and early childhood, it causes no problems. However, if thumb sucking continues past age 4, it can cause problems in the smile. Prolonged thumb sucking can lead to a condition called open bite, where the upper and lower front teeth don't meet when the mouth is closed. We can use a painless orthodontic appliance to quickly and easily break the thumb sucking habit, preventing these issues from forming.
  • Tongue Thrusting: When learning to swallow, some children develop a habit called tongue thrusting, which involves pushing the tongue against the front teeth whenever your child swallows. Over time, this can push the teeth forwards, producing protrusion or open bite. We can use an orthodontic appliance to easily and comfortably correct this issue.
  • Mouth Breathing: Mouth breathing is a behavior where a child only breathes through the mouth, leaving their mouth open at all times. Over time, this can cause changes in the musculature of the face and impair proper bone development. We can use early treatment to help correct this and ensure proper development.

Contact Your St. Catharines, ON Pediatric Orthodontist

Not every child will need early orthodontic treatment, but when it's necessary, it can drastically improve your child's orthodontic outcome. Contact us today with any questions you have on early orthodontic treatment, or if it's time for your child's orthodontic consultation, feel free to request one online. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping your child develop a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime!

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