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Pediatric Orthodontics - All You Need to Know

November 16, 2015
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Posted By: Dr. Natasha

There is nothing more heart-warming than watching your child get those little pearly whites. That is why, as a parent, you have to understand pediatric dental health, so that your kid’s little precious smile remains as such, precious and beautiful.

Is there a difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that zeroes in on the proper development of facial and dental features, and subsequent prevention, diagnosis and treatment of dento-facial deformities. It dwells on the proper alignment of teeth and proper positioning of jaws averting the development of crooked teeth. This helps in formation teeth with a better aesthetic appeal, healthier teeth protected from periodontal disease and tooth decay and longer lasting teeth in your child.

Technically, an orthodontist is a specialised dentist. A dentist typically majors in cleaning teeth, inspecting for the general condition of oral health and fixing cavities. On the other hand, an orthodontist specialises in aligning jaws, straightening crooked teeth, and has more specialised and expert knowledge beyond that gained in undergraduate dental school. Therefore, while you might have a family dentist, you may be required to seek the services of an orthodontist for more specialized dental care services.

Let me now take you through a number of orthodontic deformities.

Orthodontic deformities, unless very pronounced, are not easily determined at home. As such, you require the services of an orthodontist or a dentist, as highly specialised diagnostic procedures such as X-rays, photographs and plaster models are required to come up with definitive diagnoses. These orthodontic malformations include:
Spacing- This refers to interdental spaces due to missing teeth, or as result of teeth that fail to fill the mouth.
Crowding- This refers to an excess of teeth, more than the dental ridge can accommodate.
Misplaced midline- This refers to when the midline of teeth on the upper jaw fails to coincide with the midline of teeth on the lower jaw.
Underbite- This refers to a condition where the upper teeth have regressed backwards or the lower teeth have been displaced forwards, resulting in a characteristic ‘bulldog appearance’.
Overbite- This refers to a condition where the upper teeth are displaced forward compared to the lower teeth, resulting in a characteristic ‘buck appearance’.
Crossbite- This refers to a condition where the upper teeth fail to move in front of the lower jaw teeth during the normal biting process.

So what are the options available for an orthodontist?

Relax. The above malformations do not mean the end for your child. An orthodontist has a wide range of remedies to choose from to correct these malformations. The mainstay mode of treatment usually for alignment corrections is braces. Braces consist of bands that anchor the brace around the teeth and arch wires that apply pressure to teeth forcing their proper alignment. Space maintainers are used to correct spacing problems, especially after loss of a tooth or teeth, by maintaining the space occupied by the lost tooth open until another tooth erupts onto that space. There are also special fixed appliances that are employed in controlling tongue thrusting and thumb sucking.

The above remedies are usually fixed in nature, and only removed after a considerable duration of time. Alternatively, removable appliances also exist such as aligners that lack the metal wires found in conventional braces, splints used to correct temporo-mandibular joint defects, palatal expanders, lip and cheek bumpers, removable retainers, removable space maintainers and headgears.

Let your child’s smile be something to smile about.

In conclusion, the average orthodontic consultation and treatment procedures have decreased significantly over the years. Get your child screened as early as possible by a qualified orthodontist near your region. Dr. Jacqui suggests you can get your child screened as early as age seven to avert orthodontic problems such as overcrowding of teeth.

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