The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children see an orthodontist by at least age seven and sooner if something is obviously wrong before age seven. Fortunately, most young patients don't need anything more than observation while the permanent teeth are growing into place.

Many young patients have problems, which will not, or should not wait. Most orthodontic problems are inherited and cannot be totally prevented; however something can usually be done before these problems become more difficult and more expensive to manage.

It is advisable to consult with an orthodontist prior to having your dentist remove any baby teeth or permanent teeth. To ensure the best overall dental and facial development, all patients should have an orthodontic consultation sometime between the ages of four and seven.

Dr. Bock offers early examinations and observation consultations. Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Classifications of Teeth

The classification of bites is divided into three main categories: Class I, II, and III. This classification refers to the position of the first molars, and how they fit together.

Class I
Class I is a normal relationship between the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws or balanced bite.


Class I normal



Class I crowding

 

Class I spacing
 

 

Class II
Class II is where the lower first molar is posterior (or more towards the back of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the upper front teeth and jaw project further forward than the lower teeth and jaw. There is a convex appearance in profile with a receding chin and lower lip. Class II problems can be due to insufficient growth of the lower jaw, an over growth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. In many cases, Class II problems are genetically inherited and can be aggravated by environmental factors such as finger sucking. Class II problems are treated via growth redirection to bring the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws into harmony.

 

 
Class II division 1

 
 
Class II division 2

 

 

Class III
Class III is where the lower first molar is anterior (or more towards the front of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the lower teeth and jaw project further forward than the upper teeth and jaws. There is a concave appearance in profile with a prominent chin. Class III problems are usually due to an overgrowth in the lower jaw, undergrowth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. Like Class II problems, they can be genetically inherited. Class III problems are usually treated via surgical correction of one or both jaws.

 
Class III functional or dental

 
 
Class III skeletal

 

 

Orthodontic Problems

 
Overjet
Upper front teeth protrude


 
 
Deep bite
Upper front teeth cover lower front teeth too much

 
 
Underbite
Lower front teeth protrude


 
 
Open bite
Back teeth are together with space between the front teeth


 

Crowding
Upper and/or lower teeth are crowded


 

Excess Spacing
There is excess space between teeth


 

Mid-Line Misalignment
Mid-lines of upper and lower arches do not line up

 

Crossbite
Upper back teeth fit inside lower teeth

Phases of Treatment

Phase I: Treatment usually takes 12 to 18 months and is done between the ages of 7-9. A variety of appliances may be used to correct specific problems.

Maintenance / Recall Phase: During the time between the first and second phase the patient will be seen every few months per year. This is to monitor the eruption of the permanent teeth and exfoliation of primary teeth.

Phase II (if required): During the first phase of treatment Dr. Bock has no control over 16 unerupted permanent teeth. If they grow in and problems still exist, further treatment, known as Phase II, will be required. A separate fee will be quoted at that time. Treatment usually takes 12-24 months.

Full Treatment: If you decide to wait, treatment will be started when all permanent teeth have erupted. Full treatment usually takes 18-30 months. The length of treatment depends on the severity of malocclusion and orthodontic problems.

Proper Braces Care and Brushing Techniques

Brushing and flossing your teeth can be challenging when wearing braces but it is extremely important that you do both consistently and thoroughly.

 
 
 


Foods to Avoid During Treatment: Eating proper foods and minimizing sugar intake are essential during orthodontic treatment. Your braces can be damaged by eating hard, sticky, and chewy foods.

  • Hard foods : Nuts, Candy, Hard Pretzels
  • Crunchy foods : Popcorn, Ice, Chips, etc.
  • Sticky foods : Gum, Chewy Candy (Skittles, Taffy, Gummy Bears, Caramel, etc.)
  • Chewy foods : Bagels, Hard Rolls, etc.
  • Foods you have to bite into : Corn on the Cob, Apples, Carrots (cut these foods up into smaller pieces and chew on back teeth)
  • Chewing on Hard Objects (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

Hard Foods

 

Soft Foods

 

Dangers of Thumb Sucking.

Sucking on a thumb or finger is a completely normal habit that some babies develop even before they're born. It's soothing, and it also helps babies make contact with and explore their environment. If sucking habits go on much past the age of 3, however, it's possible that bite problems may arise.

In a normal bite, the upper teeth grow to overlap the lower teeth. But it's possible for the pressure of a thumb, finger or pacifier resting on the gums to interfere with normal tooth eruption and even jaw growth. Some thumb-suckers develop an “open bite,” meaning the teeth don't overlap when a child bites together (View Example); instead, there is an open space between the upper and lower teeth. That's why thumb sucking is definitely something we should keep an eye on, though we don't want to intervene too soon.

Breaking the Habit

It's important to keep in mind that most children break thumb-sucking habits on their own between the ages of 2 and 4. So if you're trying to get your child to stop, the first thing to do is simply ignore it. Pacifiers will usually be given up more quickly than thumbs or fingers. If your child seems unable to stop when it's time, positive reinforcements tend to work better than negative (e.g., putting a bitter substance on the thumb). Here are some things you can try:

  • Praise & Reward. Explain to your child why it's so important not to suck thumbs and think of a way to reward her for not doing it — as long as it's not with tooth-harming sweets! Stickers or an activity they enjoy might serve well. Always offer gentle reminders rather than scold when you notice a thumb in your child's mouth, and praise her when she stops.
  • Comfort & Distract. Children have different triggers for thumb sucking. Does your child tend to do it when stressed or bored? If so, some extra hugs might help, or an activity to keep those little hands busy.
  • Get Creative. You know your child best. Maybe there's a method that would be particularly motivating to him. For example, you could tie his pacifier to a helium balloon and send it up to the Tooth Fairy. When she receives it, she can leave a special present under his pillow!
  • Get Help. If your child sucks her thumb, fingers, or a pacifier, dentistry can help. Sometimes a brief conversation with a caring dental professional is all that's needed to help her understand how it will help her teeth to kick the habit. If necessary, she can be fitted with a special oral appliance called a tongue crib (View Example), which physically prevents thumb sucking and can usually break the habit in a few months.

Thumb sucking is just one reason why it's important to maintain your child's regular schedule of dental exams, starting at age 1. At these appointments, you and your child can also learn effective oral hygiene techniques to help prevent tooth decay. Meanwhile, your child's dental growth and development will be monitored. Though orthodontics can usually fix bite problems that result from sucking habits, we'd just as soon help you avoid this expense if possible!

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