Early Treatment

At Blooming Smiles, we believe everyone deserves a smile they truly love to show off. That's why we're proud to offer high-quality orthodontic treatment and pediatric dentistry to patients throughout Northridge, CA and the greater San Fernando Valley, taking care to personalize our treatment plans to suit the unique needs of our patients. We treat patients of all ages at our office, and while many of our patients get braces during adolescence or revitalize their smile in adulthood, sometimes the best way to create a great smile is to start early – and that's why we offer early orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontic Problems.

When Should My Child See the Orthodontist?

Every patient is different, and that means every patient will have different orthodontic needs – but regardless, every child should see an orthodontist for an initial evaluation by the time they turn 7. At this age, the back bite has fully established itself, which allows our Northridge orthodontists to evaluate all tooth relationships and spot both current problems and issues that may develop in the future. With most patients, we'll simply choose to wait and monitor development until the ideal time to start treatment. But for some patients, we'll recommend beginning orthodontic treatment earlier on.

Why Would My Child Need Early Orthodontic Treatment?

If your child does need early treatment, it usually means that we'll begin the first phase of treatment sometime between ages 7-10. Normally, we start with an initial phase of treatment, then wait for a few years until adolescence, when we complete treatment with a second phase. Even though there are two phases of treatment, this actually reduces the overall amount of time your child will spend with braces because it allows us to treat orthodontic conditions more effectively.

So why do some kids need an early intervention? It has to do with their orthodontic condition, or malocclusion. Some malocclusions require us to readjust the orientation of the teeth and jaws in order to create a healthy smile, and this is much easier during childhood, as we're able to shape the growth and development of the jaws to create a healthy smile. Here are a few of the most common orthodontic conditions that can require early treatment:

  • Crossbite.Crossbite: Crossbite occurs when the lower back teeth close inside the upper back teeth due to poor jaw alignment. By treating early, we can use a device called a palatal expander to gently, painlessly widen the upper jaw, creating more room for the teeth and setting the stage for a healthier smile.
  • Crowding.Crowding: Crowding is the most common reason for braces, occurring when there isn't enough room in the dental arch to accommodate all of the teeth. Once again, we can use a palatal expander to widen the jaw and create more room for the teeth.
  • Protruding teeth.Protruding Front Teeth: In this malocclusion, the upper front teeth jut out from the smile, which puts them at an increased risk of trauma. We can use orthodontic appliances to shift the alignment of the teeth and correct this issue.

Correcting Bad Habits

 Dangers of Thumb Sucking.

Most orthodontic conditions are caused by genetics, plain and simple – but some problems can arise due to certain childhood habits like prolonged thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, or mouth breathing.

Sucking on a thumb or finger is a natural and normal self-soothing behavior for babies and toddlers, usually disappearing by age 4. However, if thumb sucking continues past this age, it can shift the alignment of the teeth, pushing the front teeth outwards to create a condition called "open bite" that can cause speech impairment. Open bite can also occur if the tongue pushes against the teeth when a child swallows, a condition called tongue thrusting.

Another childhood habit that can cause orthodontic problems is mouth breathing, which occurs when a child always breathes through their mouth and the mouth always remains open. Over time, mouth breathing can cause changes to the musculature of the face and to orthodontic alignment.

If your child struggles with any of these habits, we can use orthodontic appliances to correct them and prevent malocclusions from developing. but problems like these aren't always easy to identify – which is why it's so important to schedule an initial orthodontic evaluation for your child.

Encouraging Good Habits

But fostering a healthy smile isn't just about preventing bad habits: it's also important to encourage good ones! Strong, consistent oral hygiene is one of the most important factors for a healthy smile, so it's important to encourage this early on with your child. We always recommend that parents treat brushing and flossing teeth as family rituals: schedule a time to do it together as a family, and be sure to stick to it diligently, every day. By creating this strong routine, you're helping your child develop healthy habits that will protect their smile for a lifetime.

Contact Your Local Orthodontist

Early orthodontic treatment isn't necessary for every child, but for those that do need it, it's a vital step on the road to a healthy smile. And if you think your child might benefit from an orthodontic evaluation, we'd love to help! Take the first step today and request a consultation using our easy online form. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping you and your child achieve beautiful, healthy smiles!