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New Orleans Dental Center Newsletter
Return to: Newsletter Archives - Dental Health Topics

Orthodontics for our Growing Children

  Not so long ago, most patients younger than teenage years were told they were too young for braces. Because of technological advances, today we can guide our younger patients into healthy, beautiful smiles by treating earlier. In our office, we have staged potential orthodontic treatment into three phases due to the quality of our diagnostic records and treatment planning technology. Modern orthodontics has a philosophy of treatment that includes preventing problems before they manifest, as opposed to “watching” a child grow in a poor direction and then attempting to “fix” it or compensate for it in the teenage years with such treatments as extracting teeth (once growth has basically finished). Of course, minimizing or preventing a growth problem will always result in a more beautiful face than camouflaging the problem.

   In this newsletter, we’ll be explaining our Phase I treatment, which includes patients up to approximately 6 years of age. Evaluating patients in this age group is important, as some severe problems can be prevented by timely treatment. During this phase, we check for and treat functional and orthopedic problems.


FUNCTION

   When we use the word “function,” we mean how a child breathes, talks, chews and swallows. For instance, if a child can’t breathe properly through the nose (airway obstruction), the structures associated with the airway will not develop properly (which creates even more difficulty in breathing). The bony floor of the nose is actually the upper jaw, in which upper teeth are developing. The result of airway obstruction is an underdeveloped (narrow) upper jaw and often a wide lower one, which can compromise a patient’s smile, his or her “bite,” and the development of the Temporomandibular (jaw) joints (TMJs).   

   Abnormal swallowing patterns can also have a negative effect on the growth and development of the jaws of a growing child. The tongue places about a pound of force during swallowing, and we swallow up to 3000 times a day! If the tongue is positioned forward, between the upper and lower front teeth (instead of upward on the palate, behind the upper front teeth), this “tongue thrust” deforms the shape of the upper and lower jaws and front teeth positions. An abnormal tongue position will also tend to adversely affect a child’s speech, and the deformation of the jaws and teeth positions will result in an unattractive smile and a poor “bite” relationship. Abnormal tongue position is often caused by a finger/thumb habit or pacifier use longer than 6 months of age. We are fortunate to be able to offer a very comfortable and very effective appliance which helps eliminate habits and retrain the patient’s tongue position during treatment.


ORTHOPEDICS

   Orthopedics refers to how a patient grows. As you know, it takes two adults to make one child. The genetic information passed on from the parents can result in undesirable growth patterns in a child’s jaws. For example, a child can appear as if he received his mother’s upper jaw and his father’s lower jaw, or, his father’s teeth and his mother’s jaws. The result of mixing the parents’ genes can be jaws that don’t align with each other, or crowding or spacing of the teeth. With the extensive data bases of growth pattern information that we have today, as well as the high quality images created by today’s technology, we can determine the growth pattern of a child’s jaws and redirect growth discrepancies before they manifest as problems later in life.


  For their first dental visits, we usually see our young patients around the age of 12 months. At this time, we check for proper home care, make sure that no bad habits are developing by the child’s caregivers, and check the child’s teeth and gums. In addition, we check for signs of functional and/or growth patterns that could lead to later problems. Depending on the patient, we may also brush and floss his teeth and administer a fluoride treatment. Most of all, we make sure that your child has an enjoyable time for his or her first visit to the dentist. It is important to establish a great relationship with a dentist at a very young age. Making the first visit fun gives the patient the desire to come back for regular visits and sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

  We are proud of our newest addition, a dental CT scan machine. With one 10 second scan, we can accurately create the necessary x-rays needed to evaluate your child’s growth. Once all the records are obtained, your child’s measurements will be determined and the values compared to an extensive database of children his or her age, gender and race. With this technology, we can effectively evaluate our growing patients and provide the necessary treatment with full confidence. You will be scheduled for a comprehensive consultation, in which all of the information obtained will be explained and any treatment options discussed.  

   In our next newsletter, we will be discussing Phase II treatment. The age range for this phase is between approximately 6 and 12 years old, where some exciting things happen to our children as they pass through this stage of growth. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Please call New Orleans Dental Center today at 504.347.6000 to schedule an examination.
 

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All Patients are Welcome!
Below are some of the communities in the New Orleans area proudly served by the dentists and staff at New Orleans Dental Center :

Eastbank:
New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner, Harahan, River Ridge, Chalmette, Arabi, Meraux and all the communities of Orleans, Jefferson and Saint Bernard Parishes.
Westbank:
Algiers, Avondale, Barataria, Belle Chasse, Boothville, Braithwaite, Bridge City, Buras, Crown Point, Devant, Empire, Gretna, Harvey, Jean Lafitte, Jesuit Bend, Lafitte, Marrero, Nairn, Pilottown, Point A La Hache, Port Sulphur, Terrytown, Waggaman, West Pointe A La Hache, Westwego and all the communities of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes.
River Parishes: Boutte, Des Allemands, Destrahan, Good Hope, Hahnvlle, Luling, New Sarpy, Paradis, St. Rose and all the communities of St. Charles, St. John and Ascension Parishes.

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New Orleans Dental Center
1901 Manhattan Blvd., Suite F-201
Harvey, LA 70058
Phone: (504) 347-6000 ~ Fax: (504) 367-6232


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