Early Treatment

Braces & Invisalign in Walnut Creek, CA

At Smile Power Orthodontics, we believe everyone deserves to have a smile they're proud of, and our mission is to help patients throughout Walnut Creek and the greater East Bay area achieve one. Our Walnut Creek orthodontist, Dr. Powers, works closely with our patients to design comprehensive treatment plans that fit into any busy lifestyle, and our experienced team strives to make patients feel at home during every appointment. We're proud to treat patients of all ages at our office – and sometimes, the best way to achieve a great smile is to start the treatment process early. 

Orthodontic Problems.

When Should My Child See an Orthodontist

Parents often ask us when to bring in their children for an initial orthodontic consultation, and often, they're surprised by the answer. In keeping with the American Association of Orthodontists, we ask parents to bring their kids in for their first visit around age 7. This may seem early, but at this age, the back bite has established itself, which lets our Walnut Creek orthodontist identify both current orthodontic problems and possible issues that may develop down the line. 

Keep in mind that we won't necessarily begin treatment at this early age. In fact, in most cases, we'll simply monitor your child's development until the appropriate time to start with braces. However, some orthodontic conditions are much easier and faster to treat during childhood – and if that's the case for your child, we'll recommend early orthodontic treatment.

Why Would My Child Need Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment, also called interceptive treatment, refers to any orthodontic treatment done during childhood, usually from ages 7-9. Most kids don't need early treatment, but there are a few kinds of orthodontic malocclusion (bad bite) that are much easier to treat at this early age. This is because, during childhood, the mouth isn't fully developed. In particular, the two halves of the upper jaw have yet to fuse together into a single bone. This means that we can use an oral appliance called a palatal expander to apply gentle, constant outward pressure on the jaw, pushing the two halves apart. Over time, this stimulates new bone growth in the center, literally widening the jaw and creating more space in the mouth. 

So which conditions benefit from early treatment? Every patient is different, and ultimately your Walnut Creek orthodontist will decide if early treatment is right based on a range of factors. However, conditions like crowding, underbite, and crossbite can all benefit from early treatment. Additionally, we may recommend early treatment if your child has protruding front teeth, as these are at an increased risk of damage from trauma. 

Correcting Bad Habits with Early Orthodontic Treatment

Dangers of Thumb Sucking.
In addition to malocclusions, we may also use early treatment to correct a number of bad habits some kids develop that can lead to orthodontic problems. In particular, there are 3 common habits that can lead to orthodontic problems and may warrant interceptive treatment:

  • Thumb Sucking: The sucking reflex is a natural instinct in humans, and for infants and babies, sucking on a thumb or finger is a harmless form of self-comfort. However, if thumb sucking continues past age 4, the pressure it puts on the upper and lower teeth can cause them to jut forward, creating a condition called openbite that impairs speech and bite function. If prolonged thumb sucking becomes a problem, we can use a simple orthodontic appliance to effortlessly, painlessly break the habit. 

  • Mouth Breathing: Another abnormal habit is mouth breathing, a breathing pattern where the child's mouth is constantly open, passing air straight to the lungs instead of going through the nose. Over time, mouth breathing can cause changes to the development of the musculature of the face and tongue, and it may even cause jaw problems. We offer a variety of options to help break the habit of mouth breathing. 

  • Tongue Thrusting: Finally, some children develop a habit where they push the tongue into the front teeth when they swallow. Over time, this pressure causes the teeth to learn forward, potentially leading to open bite. Similar to thumb sucking, we can break this habit easily and painlessly with an orthodontic appliance. 

  • Schedule a Consultation with Your Walnut Creek Kids Orthodontist

    Early orthodontic treatment isn't necessary for every child, but in cases where it is needed, it can make a dramatic difference in the convenience and efficacy of your child's orthodontic care. And if you have more questions about early treatment or your child is nearing age 7 and needs an orthodontic evaluation, Smile Power Orthodontics is here to help. Contact us to learn more about early treatment or request your consultation online today. We can't wait to hear from you!

Related Articles

Early Orthodontic Evaluation - Dear Doctor Magazine

Early Orthodontic Evaluation Early detection of orthodontic problems in young children may make it easier to correct those problems in the long run. Waiting until all of the permanent (adult) teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult or even impossible. An early childhood orthodontic evaluation can yield excellent results... Read Article

Thumb Sucking - Dear Doctor Magazine

How Thumb Sucking Affects The Bite Thumb sucking can actually block the front teeth from erupting fully and can also push the teeth forward — sometimes more on the side where the thumb rested. How far out of position the teeth end up will depend on the number of hours per day the thumb was in the child's mouth and how much pressure was applied. When the pressure exerted by the thumb in the mouth is particularly strong and occurs over a long period of time, the forces can potentially influence growth of the jaws... Read Article

Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Magic of Orthodontics Proper alignment of the teeth is basic to “Smile Design.” Their position dictates how they work together and affects the way you look and smile. Only orthodontic treatment can move teeth into the right position. Simply put, when things look right, they probably are right. Learn the basics of smile analysis and design and whether the magic of orthodontics will work for you... Read Article

Smile Power Orthodontics

  • Smile Power Orthodontics - 2121 Ygnacio Valley Rd., Bldg. F, Walnut Creek, CA 94598 Phone: 925-937-1333
  • Smile Power Orthodontics - 1000 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 Phone:

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