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A guide to orthodontic treatment for children

Studies estimate as many as 70% of American kids get braces before 18. Children may be born with too small jaws to accommodate their teeth โ€“ a mismatch that leads to overcrowding and uneven spacing. The most common pediatric condition, tooth decay, can also cause children’s teeth to shift out of proper alignment. These and other situations may result in the need for orthodontic treatment, such as braces.

Our dentists, Drs Anna Abel and Chuong Phan, will check for your child’s healthy oral development during regular visits to Abel, Phan & Associates in Sterling, Virginia. Depending on what Drs Abel or Phan find, they may refer your child to one of the area’s top orthodontic specialists. The American Association of Orthodontists also broadly recommends that children undergo an evaluation starting at around 7. Proactive treatment prevents many of the complications that are associated with malocclusion, or misalignment, including:

  • Crowded and crooked teeth are difficult to clean properly. Natural oral bacteria combine with sugars and starches in foods and beverages when food debris isn’t removed from the teeth and other oral surfaces. This combination produces a sticky bacterial film known as plaque. Acids in this film attack and erode the teeth from the outside inward.
  • Poor oral hygiene also promotes the destructive process of gum disease. Toxins are released as part of this inflammatory process. Eventually, the gums and supporting bones are degraded. Teeth may become loose, fall out, or require extraction.
  • If teeth are lost early, this situation also gives rise to misalignment. Baby teeth serve as placeholders for adult teeth. When they are not present, the adult teeth do not erupt or surface in their proper, healthy positions.
  • The overall quality of life and wellbeing suffers tremendously. Children with untreated malocclusion are at increased risk of frequent ear and sinus infections, speech problems, and nutritional problems due to difficulty chewing food. Self-confidence also suffers because children may be unhappy about the appearance of their smiles.

We may recommend behavioral or lifestyle modifications that encourage proper dental and oral development; for instance, prolonged and severe thumb-sucking can present complications to proper tooth positioning. Myofunctional appliances and exercises prevent complications and support healthy habits. Modern fixed braces may be made from transparent brackets and clear wires. So, children and teens can straighten their teeth discreetly. Alternative braces also exist, such as removable aligners made from transparent plastic material. Other appliances, including headgear, may be recommended depending on the nature and extent of a child’s developmental challenges. Retainers also help prevent relapse, the process of teeth shifting back out of alignment again, following orthodontic treatment.

Your child’s health during this pivotal period of development can’t wait. Call (571) 450-9848 to schedule a visit to Abel, Phan & Associates, serving Sterling/Potomac Falls.