Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and was he ever right! So many times in life, you can avoid more significant problems if you’re proactive and preventive in your efforts, whether it’s keeping a fire extinguisher in your kitchen for an emergency or seeking orthodontic care before an issue officially becomes a major problem.
Dr. David Rad, Dr. Mehdy Rad, and Dr. Carmine Petrarca are philosophically in agreement: It saves you time, money, and often considerable pain and discomfort for your child if you address a minor orthodontic issue now before it becomes full-blown.
Why early treatment?
Prevention is one of the biggest buzzwords in medical and dental care. Your chances of entirely avoiding certain health conditions if you do the right thing early on are pretty empowering when you think about it.
Never smoking will make you far less likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer, eating right and exercising to prevent obesity means you’ll slash your risk for heart disease and diabetes, and even observing proper technique when you play a sport reduces the chances that you’ll get injured.
The power of prevention is also potent in the world of orthodontics. This is why the Rad Orthodontics team encourages you to schedule your child’s first orthodontic appointment at around age 7, providing no apparent problems emerge before then.
This advice may surprise you, but we’ve based our recommendations on those of the American Association of Orthodontists. Seven years of age is the exact juncture at which we can thoroughly examine your child’s teeth and jaw development. This is the “sweet spot” in terms of the number of permanent versus baby teeth your child has in their mouth.
These permanent teeth give just enough of an indication about how well things are developing in your child’s mouth. If we can already anticipate potential orthodontic problems, we get started on developing a treatment plan for your child.
The critical question we ask is whether you’re waiting to provide any intervention will exacerbate your child’s condition, or if, for now, at least, it’s alright to leave well enough alone.
If you wait too long, treatment may be fraught with complications and discomfort that wouldn’t have taken place if preventive steps were taken. Postponing that first appointment can also mean that specific treatment options will no longer be possible — the window will have closed.
Can I accompany my child to an early intervention orthodontic appointment, and what are you looking for?
As your child relaxes in the exam room with you present, your provider takes a good, long look at their mouth. Specifically, we’re looking to identify teeth that are crowded or too loosely spaced and determining whether your child has any bite problems. We also look for problems caused by excessive thumbsucking or pacifier use and missing or extra teeth.
What does early orthodontic intervention look like?
Many children need so-called two-phase treatment, which involves creating extra space for your child’s mouth to accommodate their permanent teeth. Typically we start this course of treatment in the 6-8 year window because your child’s face is still growing.
We can direct this growth so that their jaw is properly aligned, teeth are positioned correctly, and there’s no crowded tooth in sight. This intervention also prevents painful future impacted teeth, or teeth that get stuck below your gum line.
In phase two of treatment, we place braces or clear aligners in your child’s mouth to continue guiding their teeth in the right direction. This step is only undertaken if your child has all of their adult teeth. When phase two treatment is complete, your child wears a retainer to keep the corrective measures taken in place.
Another corrective step that might need to occur is baby tooth extraction, performed strategically to take the most advantage of the growth phase your child is in so that their adult teeth come in the way they should. Early intervention uncovers the need for surgery for some patients, and we’re ready to provide this service too.
Everyone at Rad Orthodontics is committed to giving your child the most advanced, efficiently formulated care possible. By taking the long view, we can often save patients and their parents time, complications, and grief.
Call the Rad Orthodontics office most convenient to you and find out whether preventive early intervention orthodontic treatment could be an integral part of your child’s long-term treatment plan. You can also schedule an appointment online, and due to COVID-19, we continue to offer both in-person and virtual appointment options.