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

Orthodontics for our Growing Children
Part II

  In our previous newsletter, we discussed our assessment and potential treatment of children in “Phase I” of growth and development. In this newsletter, we will discuss what happens during the next phase of growth, what we term, Phase II.

  The age range for this phase is usually between 6 and 12 years old. During this time, children lose their four upper and four lower front primary (“baby”) teeth, and permanent front teeth (incisors) grow in their places. In addition, the four permanent first molars (“six-year molars”) erupt into their positions behind the last “baby” molars.

  A very important growth factor takes place during this phase of development. The Temporomandibular joints (TMJs) “mature,” or take their adult shapes. Prior to this time, a child can open as wide as his or her muscles allow, with little restriction from the joints themselves. Adults, however, open as wide as the joints allow their mouths to open. This final joint development usually begins at the time that the upper lateral incisors (teeth to the right and left of the center teeth) are erupting. It is important at this time that both the front teeth and back teeth are in a good “bite” relationship, so that the TMJs can form into healthy shapes. The bony portions of the joints form their shapes as the child functions with the teeth, so if the “bite” is too far from ideal, the joints will develop into less than ideal shapes.

  With this in mind, we feel that it’s important to evaluate children in this age range. We check the functional and orthopedic development as we do in Phase I, but in Phase II we have the ability to treat the permanent teeth with braces (as well as other orthodontic appliances), thus changing both the TMJ shapes and the child’s appearance for the better. Children at this age are developing in a way that their smiles and general facial appearances become an important part of their self images. Like it or not, there are psychology studies to prove that there are tangible benefits to having a beautiful smile, at any age, including as developing children. Plus, children at this age tend to be much more cooperative with the requirements of treatment than in the later, teenage, years.

  The treatment times during Phase II are usually quite short, averaging 6-8 months. It is important to note that having braces at this phase doesn’t always prevent the need for braces at a later time (Phase III, discussed in our next newsletter). However, the greatest advantage of this philosophy of treatment is that we can guide a child’s growth into a healthy, beautiful smile instead of watching a problem and attempting to fix it later. Often, if orthodontic treatment is delayed until all of the permanent teeth have erupted, compromises in final results have to be made and tend to increase the treatment time. By treating in phases, the time the patient is in braces can be reduced. Since the longer a patient wears braces, the more likely the teeth and gums are to become unhealthy with decay and gingivitis, our goal is to achieve the desired result in the shortest time possible.

  Look for our next newsletter, in which we will discuss our Phase III orthodontic treatment for children, as well as the options for adult orthodontic treatment.


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

Past New Orleans Dental Center Newsletters

 

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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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