For our kids, losing baby teeth is about a visit from the Tooth Fairy. For us, it’s about the development of permanent teeth. Here at Stanley Pediatric Dentistry of Overland Park, we believe that each milestone is also an important opportunity for quality oral healthcare as our children make their way toward their teenage years and beyond.
There are important steps to take to ensure permanent teeth develop correctly, and for many of the children and teenagers we see, Invisalign, clear braces may be a part of that process. We’re committed to helping you make the best decisions by providing straightforward, honest advice every time you and your child pay us a visit.
Throughout the course of our lives, we get not one, but two sets of teeth: primary (baby teeth) and secondary (permanent teeth). By age three, the primary teeth are generally in place, following the first appearance of baby teeth around six months.
By age six, the process of losing baby teeth begins, and the development of permanent teeth should start to take place. Normally, all are present by around age 13. 12-year molars are next, followed by the wisdom teeth, which typically start breaking through around age 17. The wisdom teeth are often removed due to a lack of room in the mouth for all 32 teeth. It’s quite crowded!
Your child’s front teeth are called incisors, while the sharper, fang-like teeth are called canines. The next set of teeth from side to side are known as pre-molars, or bicuspids, while the back teeth are molars. Since we keep our permanent teeth for life, proper brushing and flossing habits and techniques are important from a young age.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child receive their first orthodontic screening no later than age 7, and we agree. By starting treatment early, potential problems can be recognized and diagnosed early, and can often be corrected before they become serious. This saves time for you and your child, as well as money in the long run.
Time and again, early interceptive orthodontic treatment has proven beneficial in young children. Because their permanent teeth haven’t yet finished erupting, we’re able to fully evaluate the front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships, and address any problems at the earliest possible stage.
During the first evaluation of your child, we’ll determine right away whether there are any problems which need our immediate attention. This can be anything from potential crowding, open bite, overbite or what we call “gummy smiles”. It’s possible, however, that immediate treatment simply isn’t needed right away. If it is necessary, however, we’ll put together a personalized treatment plan for your child tailored to his or her specific case.
As with any treatment, orthodontic needs will vary from patient to patient. It is possible, however, that removable or fixed appliances could be necessary to provide more room for crowded, erupting teeth; preserve space for teeth that haven’t erupted yet; create facial symmetry through jaw growth manipulation; reduce the possibility of tooth extraction; and reduce overall orthodontic treatment time.
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While we start evaluating things as early as age 7, typically, the most common time for orthodontic treatment is between the ages of 11 and 15. There’s a good reason for that, since, by age 12, most of the permanent teeth have erupted and are in place. That means crooked teeth, bad bites and gaps are more easily detected. It also means the problems aren’t going to fix themselves, and most parents decide to seek treatment at this time.
This is also a good time for orthodontic treatment because many of the negative associations we often connect with braces aren’t yet present. It’s quite typical for many children in this age range to be undergoing some form of orthodontic treatment, which means they see their friends wearing braces, and are more easily convinced to do so as well. Clear braces for teens, known as Invisalign, also help with this process, making orthodontic treatment a less noticeable event in children’s lives.
Children at this age are also growing at a rapid pace, which gives Dr. Hemberger the opportunity to take advantage of growth spurts by shaping the bite correctly. High metabolism in children of this age is also beneficial, often leading to reduced discomfort and less overall treatment time.
Our kids play everything from soccer to basketball and partake in everything from gymnastics to dance. Unfortunately, being active can sometimes lead to unexpected dental emergencies if the proper steps aren’t taken. This might be as simple as a mouth guard for your football player or some special instructions for your softball star that happens to wear braces. Whatever the sport, we know all the best ways to keep your young athlete’s mouth in good shape no matter how rough things might get out on the playing field.
Pediatric dental specialists have additional training in a child’s developing occlusion (bite). Dr. Kate and her team perform orthodontic evaluations during your visits and keep you informed of any interceptive orthodontic needs now or possibilities in the future and can offer a timely referral for any major concerns that might need to be addressed outside our office.