Because orthodontics is more than just straightening teeth. There are generally four biological systems that are involved in the orthodontic correction.
The first system involves nasal breathing. The face and jaws can grow unfavorably in a child who routinely breathes through his mouth rather than through his nose. If such a condition is recognized and treated early, growth can proceed favorably. The proper use of orthodontic X-rays can provide initial clues of favorable or unfavorable growth patterns of the face and jaws.
The second system involves muscles: the muscles of facial expression, the muscles of mastication or chewing, and muscles of the tongue. All have significant influence in the development of dental and facial balance.
The third system is skeletal (bony). This system deals with the relationships of the upper and lower jaws to one another, to the teeth, and to the other bones of the head. By properly evaluating orthodontic X-rays, a skeletal problem can be determined.
The fourth system involves the teeth. Usually the muscles of the face and mouth, the growth of the jaws, and the patterns of breathing determine the positions of the teeth. Your child may have a large overbite, crowded teeth, spaces between the teeth, or the teeth that “just don’t look right.”
As you can see, before a treatment proposal can be formulated for any specific problem, a complete evaluation must be made to see if there is a breathing problem, a facial muscle problem, a skeletal problem, or a dental problem. Usually there is a combination of two or more of these conditions.
An appreciation of the maturation and growth of the developing child enables timely intervention to redirect growth patterns. By the time a child becomes a young teenager, 90% of his facial growth has been completed, thereby reducing the influence that the orthodontist may have on the overall quality of the correction. This earlier approach to therapy allows for enhanced improvement in the quality of the treatment used in the areas of facial aesthetics and balance, proper function, and long lasting results.
A variety of early treatment appliances are now available to help your child outgrow and correct his orthodontic problem. The orthodontist and staff will be happy to assist in your understanding of these appliance systems once a definite treatment plan is defined for your child.