Sign up for our newsletter
April 2, 2019
Originally published in the April 2019 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.
At one time, it was accepted that eventually we would lose our teeth when we got old. Nowadays, this is not the case. We can keep our own teeth for our entire life if regular dental care starts early and is carried out consistently.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, the proper age for a child’s first orthodontic evaluation is age 7. Early examination can uncover existing or potential conditions that respond to interceptive orthodontic treatment. This early, sometimes simple treatment may eliminate the necessity for, and cost of, full orthodontic treatment later.
State of the art orthodontic treatment frequently employs a treatment style known as “two phase treatment.” Dr. Randy Feldman, an orthodontist in Tampa Bay for the past 37 years, explains: “Phase One, the early interceptive phase of treatment, heads off problems as they are detected. Orthodontic appliances can be used to correct the jaw shape and direct the growth toward an ideal relationship between the upper and lower jaw. A good foundation can be established, providing adequate room for eruption of all the permanent teeth.”
Dr. Feldman notes that malocclusions, the irregularities of tooth position and the misfitting of the teeth when the jaws are closed, are often inherited problems. They can also be caused by injuries, early loss of primary teeth, or from bad habits such as thumb sucking, nail biting or lip biting. “Regardless of the cause, moderate and severe malocclusions benefit from orthodontic treatment because irregular teeth rarely straighten themselves,” explains Dr. Feldman. He emphasizes that malocclusions can affect the bite, the ability to clean teeth properly, the health of gum tissue, jaw and speech development, as well as appearance.
One early sign that a child is a candidate for orthodontic treatment is an asymmetrical relationship between the upper and lower jaws. An upper or lower jaw may be growing too much or not enough, or one or both jaws may be too wide or too narrow, or crooked. If children over the age of 4 have these jaw discrepancies, they are usually candidates for early orthodontic/orthopedic treatment. In fact, intervention before puberty could actually prevent the need for orthognathic surgery later. “When talking about reshaping the facial features and restructuring bones with orthopedic appliances, early intervention is required,” Dr. Feldman explains.
Phase Two orthodontics is not always required, but it is the corrective phase and is initiated when most of the permanent teeth have erupted. This usually requires braces on all of the teeth for an average of 18 to 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to hold the teeth in their new corrected positions.
The two-phase orthodontic/orthopedic treatment is a very specialized process that encompasses jaw and facial changes (orthopedics) and tooth straightening (orthodontics). The major advantage of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, aesthetic and comfortable results, without surgery or extractions, that can remain stable and allow you to keep your own teeth and smile for a lifetime.
This article was sponsored by BlueWave Dental Group.