By: Dr. Malia Kamisugi DDS, MSD
Correcting large problems requires large solutions. As Benjamin Franklin once said, an ounce of prevention is equal to a pound of cure. The same can hold true with orthodontics. Early orthodontics is aimed at addressing malocclusion early, when you can make the most difference, and when you can set up the dentition to develop optimally so issues later are minimized. Young kids also have the advantage of growth, which can be altered to an extent, to allow for the teeth and jaws to erupt into more harmonious positions (in non-growing patients, surgery is often the only option to obtain bony changes). While not every child will or should be treated early, those that can benefit from it benefit immensely. Treatment can also be less invasive and overall treatment time can be shorter.
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A relatively new concept I have been using at Hi Smile Orthodontics is to treat young patients with Invisalign for their early correction. What we aim to do is have the kids wear the aligners at night to “guide” erupting teeth into more optimal positions, so less correction is needed when all adult teeth have erupted. In other words, teeth erupt into the positions they should be in rather than having to correct and move teeth that have already erupted poorly.
Traditionally, you would do this correction with braces or functional appliances. While both methods work well, and have been tested over time, there are some disadvantages to them. Functional appliances are often worn for very long periods, and are very large and bulky. Braces can poke and irritate the patient, there are more emergency appointments associated with braces and functional appliances, and they must be cemented to the teeth, then sometimes removed and put back on for multiple phased treatments. The Invisalign aligners we use are made with clear plastic, and are well adapted, so they are much more comfortable for the child. We also typically only use them at night with young children, which minimizes the chances for lost aligners. We have found that by simply “guiding” the erupting teeth at the right times, you can eliminate the use of these more invasive appliances, and achieve more optimal teeth positions and bite.
We strongly encourage all children be checked at age 7 to evaluate teeth and jaw development. Here at Hi Smile Orthodontics, new patient consultations are free.