When you hear “orthodontist” you most likely think of braces and teenagers. Orthodontics is actually the techniques used to correct jaw malformations. It can also be used to modify facial growth in young children. Several techniques are used including traditional braces as well as removable outer appliances, such as headgear and expansion appliances.
For the average child, the ideal time for orthodontics will be just as the last primary (baby) teeth are falling out. This will usually occur at approximately age twelve. However, there are circumstances in which children benefit from phase 1, or interceptive, orthodontics. For this reason, the American Academy of Orthodontists typically recommends that children have a screening appointment with an orthodontist around age seven. At this time, the orthodontist will discuss future treatment, including the timing of such treatment.
Dr. Purvis spends a great deal of continuing education time in the field of orthodontics. This allows him to analyze and better prepare parents of their child’s needs and to ensure each patient is being referred at the proper time for orthodontic evaluation and treatment. Dr. Purvis works alongside the child’s orthodontist to ensure the best possible outcome for their smile.
The primary teeth hold the space for the permanent teeth. When a primary tooth is lost earlier than it should be lost, the teeth surrounding that tooth move and close off that space for the developing tooth which sometimes may not come in until the child is 13-14 years old. If this happens, braces are often required to shift those teeth back into their original position to allow the tooth to come in properly. A space maintainer is a custom fitted metal appliance (similar to a retainer in some instances) that prevents the closure of that critical space.